Wycombe Abbey 125 Live! A journey through the last 125 years

UIII at Wycombe Abbey 125 Live!

To celebrate 125 years of Wycombe Abbey, we created a show that would take our audience on a journey through the decades from 1890 to the present day. The show starred over 100 pupils and featured a celebratory mix of music, dance and drama.

125 Live! placed the Wycombe Abbey pupils and their talents at the heart of the production in a way that our founder, Dame Frances Dove, surely would have found most invigorating and entertaining. Fourteen enthusiastic Upper Three pupils held the show together with their storytelling skills, fun facts about the School and energetic dancing. Below, Rozzie (UIII) and Sissie (UIII) reflect on their experiences as storytellers in125 Live!.

Cat Hoyle
Creative Director of 125 Live!, Rubens Housemistress

Rehearsing and performing 125 Live! has been such an extraordinary experience and I have enjoyed every second of it. As storytellers, our job was to weave all the exceptional acts together so that the whole show ran smoothly and seamlessly. We narrated the story of Wycombe Abbey’s incredible Headmistresses, the School’s foundations and the gradual change from what the School was like in 1896 to how it is in 2022.

I personally found every act in 125 Live! absolutely spectacular. However, I particularly liked the Moulin Rouge dance, the jazz band and all three rock bands. I thought Moulin Rouge was amazing because the dancers were so talented and the choreography was fantastic. The jazz band played a very uplifting and fun rendition of Tequila, and the rock bands were brilliant as all the band players performed so well. My favourite moment of being a storyteller was dancing with inflatables to Tequila. It was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed shouting “Tequila!” at the top of my lungs, as well as getting to watch the audience having such a terrific time.

I have learnt so many fun facts about Wycombe Abbey from doing 125 Live!, for instance, I learnt the names of the many previous School Headmistresses, that the Sports Centre was opened by Sir Steve Redgrave in 2004, and one of my favourite facts that Dame Frances Dove acquired some peacocks to parade outside her drawing room. Unfortunately, they made an immense amount of noise during morning prayers on the Big School rafters!

Being a part of 125 Live! has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am glad to have had the chance to be a storyteller. I have loved collaborating with my friends, being able to learn numerous fascinating things about my school and to tell the remarkable story of Wycombe Abbey.


Act after magnificent act was exhibited as fluorescent lighting illuminated the stage in hues of dark blue, pale gold and bold pink. It was precisely in moments like these; the moments where we would all tumble down the stairs (with our senior House ties flapping) as we started the opening act. The moments where we would stare open-mouthed as performer after performer delivered to the best of their ability, admiring the passion of their voice and the power of their movement as they brought the show alive. It was in moments like these that I would suddenly feel a surge of exhilaration; to realise that I was part of this, a part of this new generation of Wycombe Abbey pupils brought me immense pride in my role in the show.

During the first rehearsal (where the full cast was present), I distinctly remember that I was constantly reiterating the words, “Wow! They’re so amazing!” as I watched act after act, my vocabulary limited only to these words of praise. However, at the beginning, I had to admit that I was rather nervous and was tempted to shy away from the challenge I was faced with – having to present to a large audience. But as the days went by, I grew in confidence with each rehearsal and, with the help of Miss Hoyle, applied a steadier pace and varied my tone of voice to each different piece of narrative. Furthermore, during each practise I felt less nervous and worried as I believed in myself to be at the right place and the right time. This process also allowed me to believe in my potential more and remain determined to have a positive mindset towards challenges.

If you had asked me, “How do you feel about speaking to an audience?” before the performance, I would have shaken my head in alarm with a panicked expression etched on my face. Yet, after 125 Live! I would have replied with an air of self-confidence, “Speaking to an audience is fine by me!” which just goes to show how much the show guided me towards positivity. The highlight of being a storyteller was to be able to stand up proudly, spotlights shining and microphone at the ready – and speak of the past, the present and the future that I am so proud to share. This, for me, is what made me say yes to 125 Live!


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