Page last updated at 22:35 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 23:35 UK

Musical celebrates primary school

By Angie Brown
Edinburgh reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Primary School Musical
The children in Primary School Musical have been rehearsing for five days

A musical born out of the campaign to save a raft of primary schools in Edinburgh threatened with closure is being performed at the Fringe.

Primary School Musical is the brainchild of a parent of two children at Stockbridge Primary, who helped to stop the council closing the school.

In August 2007 the school, along with 19 others in the city, was selected for closure.

Parents and pupils launched a campaign and the schools were saved.

Angus Reid, 42, whose children were aged 10 and 11 at the time of the school closure announcement, wrote the music and the script for the show.

He was inspired when he watched children protesting and waving banners outside the City Chambers.

The musical is loosely based on that experience.

Mr Reid said he was annoyed when he heard his children's school was to be closed.

He said: "I felt angry the council wouldn't speak to us, it was a body which simply refused to speak about the policy.

"In retrospect I'm grateful because if they hadn't acted so completely stupidly we wouldn't have needed to have gone to such extreme lengths and then we wouldn't have had all the joy of winning.

"To close a school is to destroy a community and that is a precious thing in Scotland."

'Great things'

Mr Reid, who has spent 18 months writing the musical, added that Stockbridge had been such a welcoming school to his children that he could not bear it closing.

The single father: "My children's mother lives in Slovenia, which is where they were brought up and I brought them to Edinburgh four years ago.

"When we arrived my children were rather vulnerable, English wasn't their first language and they had a wonderful welcome in Edinburgh in a very small primary school with 200 kids and they flourished, they had a wonderful time, it was great and then after two years suddenly, for no good reason, the school was threatened with closure."

"In the course of all that I looked at all the children and thought 'where is their song?'

"They are protesting and shouting but where was their song?

"Because when they sing together they are very much stronger and they have an innocence that is so winning."

Primary School Musical rehearsals
Primary School Musical starts on Friday

Allana Evans, 12, who has just finished at Stockbridge Primary School, plays Melissa in the show.

She said: "We were all quite upset when we were told our primary might have to close.

"It has been very hard work doing the show, you are on your feet all day.

"At first I felt upset about missing part of my summer holidays to practise for the show because I like to do other things and catch up with friends but then when I actually got into it was more fun than anything I would do all day so I was really happy."

Adam Chapple, seven, plays Prawn in the show.

He had just begun primary one at Stockbridge Primary when he was told it was to close.

He said: "It is really good at school, lots of really great things happen there, lessons are great fun, I always learn a lot.

"I was quite worried when I was told the school might close and upset because I didn't know what kind of school I was going to and I didn't know if it was going to be better or worse.

"It has been some of the best days of my life (rehearsing for the show)".

The show, which starts on Friday, is on at The Big Red Door in Lady Lawson Street.



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