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Article written and presented by Susan Manton 2009
Whitefriars Junior Choir - Palladium
Photograph of Whitefriars Choir outside the London Palladium
Whitefriars choir assembled outside "The London Palladium"

In the autumn of 1992 Mrs.Bonham, who at the time was the leader of the Whitefriars Junior School choir, decided to send off a tape to the London Palladium, who were inviting choirs to submit a recording with a view to appearing with Jason Donovan in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.” After a while she received an invitation to take the choir up to London for an audition. The choir was to sing one piece of their own choice along with a set piece from the show. Mrs. Bonham was wondering who would play the piano for them and one dinnertime my son came dashing across to the Infant School playground, (I was a dinner lady there at the time), breathlessly telling me that it wasn’t him that had told Mrs. Bonham that I could play the piano but would I go and see her as she was wondering if I would be able to play for their audition. Although I am quite a competent pianist, the thought of playing at the Palladium was quite a challenge and so I said that I would have a go but not promise fully until I saw the music and we had rehearsed together. I had a tape to listen to, which was a great help, and so after several practices with the choir, decided that I would go to London with them and accompany them on the piano. The day arrived and, after assembly in the school, we set off in the coach for our afternoon audition. Mr. Threadkill, the headmaster at the time, came with us.

We were hustled into a darkened auditorium which was filling up with many other choirs most of whom seemed much older that the choir from Whitefriars. We were introduced to the director of the show. Choir by choir performed their set pieces and own choice. I felt quite nervous as most of the pianists were obviously used to doing this kind of thing. On listening to the others it was obvious that we were not going to get through the audition and get a part in the show. This would have been very taxing for the children anyway as they would have to come several times a week to performances. The choirs would work on a rota so that they didn’t perform twice in a row.

Photograph of director of the show talking to the Whitefriars choir
Director of the show talking to the choir on the Palladium stage.

Our turn for the audition arrived and we performed well, although we were nervous. After singing, the director came on to the stage and put the children through some directions just to see how they would be able to cope with performing and singing at the same time. He had them skipping around and doing elementary dancing routines. He was very kind and put them at ease straight away. They posed for a photograph on the stage. After all the auditions were through the director thanked us all for coming, telling us that we would have the results of the audition in a few days. Souvenir badges of the show were given out and we all made our way back home, disappointed that we hadn’t caught a glimpse of Jason Donovan but happy with the experience of performing on the stage at the London Palladium. Needless to say we didn’t get through but it was still an honour to be chosen for an audition, as only so many of those who had submitted an entry were actually asked to travel to London.

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