YOUNG performers have returned to the stage for the first time since the pandemic.

Mark Hall Academy, in Harlow, welcomed back a live audience to see students perform in their version of Cinderella.

The pantomime, delayed last month due to snow, saw 14 musicians, 17 actors and five backstage technicians from Year seven to 10 take centre stage.

The cast and crew rehearsed weekly for three months, having auditioned for their parts back in September.

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The modernised version of the classic included references to Stranger Things and Kate Bush, a redemption for the Ugly Sisters set to Beyonce, as well as traditional pantomime humour.

Phil Watson, head of performing arts, said: "There has been no school shows at Mark Hall since before the pandemic, so it was fantastic to see the school return to life as a performing arts venue."

"The actors' courageous and outstanding performances had the audience in stitches."

The school is also launching a new theatre technical club to give students another avenue to pursue.

Principal Manjit Hazle said: "It was wonderful to see so many students coming together from a range of year groups and subjects to showcase their talents.

"We're already excited about what comes next."