STUDENTS at the North’s top-performing state school have proved they are also stars outside the classroom after captivating audiences with a series of entertaining theatrical productions.

Talented Ripon Grammar School pupils, aged 11 to 18, shone on stage as well as behind-the-scenes during the school’s popular annual drama competition held over two nights.

More than 160 pupils from the school’s four competing houses took part in ambitious student-led productions of Matilda, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Alice in Wonderland and The 39 Steps, in the same week RGS was named ‘Top state school in the North’ by The Sunday Times.

Performing in front of sell-out audiences of around three hundred parents, fellow students and other guests each evening, pupils from De Grey, School, Porteus and Hutton houses also faced a panel of judges made up of former RGS teachers Simon Naylor and Steven Rouse and former RGS student Rachael Sharpe.

As well as the gifted acting casts, around 50 dedicated students commended for the vital work they did out of the spotlight as directors, producers, set designers and technical and stage crew members all excelled in their roles.

Unusually, a first former won the award for best actress. Thanks to her magical stage presence in the title role of School House’s Matilda, 12-year-old Nia Peedell, from Bedale, ensured she held her own alongside older actors.

Lower sixth former Alfie McEvoy, 16, from Ripon, who as the Mad Hatter helped bring Porteus House’s madcap Alice in Wonderland scenes to glorious life, won the award for best actor.

The De Grey team, who have gained a reputation for taking on challenging subjects, won best play award for their powerful and confident production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

And the judges’ special award was presented to Hutton House for displaying ambition and vision in creating such a concise, high-octane and seriously clever 45-minute production of the complex story of The 39 Steps.