School Plays and Musicals:

The school was already taking third-party bookings for the new hall at the end of 1962, a year before it was due to be finished, but it's always been the school play that's been the biggest draw to the venue. The first drama to grace the Main Hall was the Chester Cycle of Mystery Plays which ran from 19th-21st March 1964. The following year the school staged The Heiress by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, while the '66/7 play was Dodgson's interpretation of Alice in Wonderland.

Over the years, the school got into the habit of putting on musicals for the consumption of the general public. Paul Bennett writes:

"Without doubt one of my most treasured experiences there was a continued involvement in Music and Drama. Of the many people who influenced my development in these areas, the most prominent was (of course) 'Splash' ...or as he was officially known, Mr Drinkwater. As Head of Music, he was my chief mentor, encouraging me in both my classical singing, and operatic performances. Many of my contemporaries will remember the success we enjoyed in our regular Gilbert and Sullivan productions, including Trial by Jury, Mikado and my favourite, HMS Pinafore. The accompanying photo shows the curtain line-up for this production (circa 1969?):"
Thanks to Paul Bennett
[click here for an annotated version of the image]

David Atkinson adds:
"There were 2 Gilbert & Sullivan Musicals performed at DCS during my time there (I took part as one of the Male Chorus) - these were Iolanthe and The Mikado.  I think Iolanthe was probably in 1976 or 77,  and The Mikado was definitely  in 1979.  Both were held over 5 nights,  and I can remember the Dress Rehearsal for The Mikado went on for ages on the Sunday.  There was also a 2-night performance of "Jonah Man Jazz" in Spring 1975.  A group of us went to Radio Sheffield to sing 2 or 3 pieces from the show on a program called "Talk-in" presented by Peter Harrison on 7/3/1975.  Mr Drinkwater's son John played one of the main characters in the show and this prompted Peter Harrison to comment about 'nepotism' at Dinnington High School."

Martin Brown continues:

"Oliver! (main part played by a young lad called Nuttall) was around 1978. There was also Half a Sixpence (with the main part of Kipps being jointly played by Stephen Smith & David Ellis - yes that Dave Ellis now teaching PE and singing Karaoke!). There was a musical every year and they ran for a whole week. Every night got sold out and there was also a performance which I think was the final "rehearsal" put on one day the preceding week during the day for all the local junior schools [a practice that was carried out back in the Modern days too]. Also every year at Xmas time the 6th form put on a concert in aid of Cancer Research - The Cancer Concert. Not sure why this started but presumably because of a death. This was a show which lampooned the school and teachers and featured comedy sketches and jokes and performances of school bands. It was one night only and was always standing room only and an eagerly awaited event of the year. No teacher ever got off lightly -- it was the only school production with no or at least minimal teacher involvement; all the 6th form pitching in in some way. It always raised loads of money for Cancer Research and it is a pity if it ceased to be, probably through being too near the knuckle..."

With regards to the 1980s output, Jules provides the following:

"There were other musical productions before Grease [became an annual feature] - I remember being in Fiddler on the Roof (with Mr Smith as Tevye) and Guys & Dolls. Before that I remember seeing Mr Mather starring in My Fair Lady and there was also Calamity Jane. In the late 1980s the English dept put on an excellent Hamlet [not a musical, but certainly worth a mention] (so good I paid to see it twice) where I believe Mr Adams may have played the ghost (up on the balcony at the back of the hall)."
The late '80s and early '90s saw the regular annual performance of Grease, complete with Lichtenstein-inspired Benday-dot sets. Around the mid-'90s there was a dramatic break from tradition when Grease was dropped in favour of Diana Ross / Michael Jackson vehicle The Wiz. 1996 saw a production of Bugsy Malone, starring Jonathan Greaves as Bugsy and Gareth Bowley as Fat Sam. After a lengthy hiatus, the tradition returned in 2004 with the musical comedy Henry the Tudor Dude.

Performances existed before the Main Hall, of course. The Boys' School's 1938 Christmas Play was Once Aboard the Lugger by Rodney Bennett and Alec Rowley. A repeat performance in 1956 was not as well received, with Mr Heeley describing the attendance as "disappointing".

The Girls' Department launched an annual Festival of Music & Dance a week after VE Day, and an annual Flower Festival in 1954. In 1953, the school began an annual Top of the Form-style quiz, with Boys' and Girls' heats culminating in a Boys' v Girls' final. The Heads delivered the questions.

The April 1962 school play was Tobias and the Angel. It cost £83-9/- and made £87-18/3 (a profit of £4-9/3). It was followed in December by A Little Christmas Concerto composed by Mr Drinkwater.