The addition of this High School Festival element to the Waterford International Music Festival has lit a flame that will gather in intensity and grow to possibly a five day event when the word goes out about the spirit of challenge and innovation in musical theatre that Waterford has awoken and the accolades and awards it will give to the better shows. Each show gets a top class adjudication which is excellent in itself.

Following De La Salle came St Augustine’s Dungarvan and it was a pity that some schools did not provide a programme of names and items. The adjudicator on the inaugural night had to refer to items by the name of the character or the song or in one instance – the boy in the orange tee-shirt.

St Augustine’s had a humourous take with their Transition Year Godspell. A beautiful Save The People was busy with stylised muggings and crossovers. A wonderful feature was the signing for the hard of hearing for Day By Day. There was great fun extracted from the parables with a Father Ted routine, a Chariots of Fire slowmo, a Specsavers joke and lots of effective slapstick. The chorus work was inventive and brightly costumed with a tap routine for Learn Your Lessons and there was a quick Twins joke as well. Items segued easily into each other and All For The Best was excellent and the dancing in Oh Bless The Lord My Soul was impressive. Two girls duetted on By My Side and it was a highlight of the evening. There were storm and rain effects for Long Live God as the sun swept into a lively Prepare Ye finale.

Bill Stafford of Good Counsel and St Mary’s Secondary, New Ross provided me with a cast and item list for their take on Les Miserables. This had more solo and trio work than big chorus numbers and At The End Of The Day was emotional as was the closing One Day More. Amy O’Brien sang I Dreamed A Dream and Gavin Murphy created a stillness for Stars. Ciara Kehoe sang On My Own and Padraic McGrath shone with an emotional Bring Him Home.

The Richie Hayes Stage School provided a filler act, while the adjudicator sorted his notes and they rocked the theatre with all-action impressive dancing and spot-on chorus work of an exciting order. Thriller swept into You Can’t Stop The Beat from Hairspray and the joint was happening. A six girl Can Can wowed the audience with tasteful, daring, superb choreography and a high entertainment factor. Joyful Joyful from Sister Act was like an explosion of energy with colourful crisp costumes, lots of smiling enthusiasm and a shining expression of musical theatre at its very best.