The sound of a 32-piece orchestra swelled and crashed as the dragon perched above them came alive, smoke billowing from its mouth and nostrils.
The voices of the cast rose above the orchestra and an electrified sense of anticipation rippled through the audience as they watched the opening scene of Wicked.
This was Rouse Hill Anglican College Senior School's latest musical production, which played at the school last month.
Student Tayla Pettit, who played the part of Elphaba - a self-confident, strong and caring young witch with a voice full of emotion - said it was a "wonderful experience" that she wouldn't forget.
"I learnt so much and developed not only as a singer and performer but as a person along with all the people I met along the way, every single one of them making the experience what it was," she said.
Stephanie Molloy, who acted as Galinda - a beautiful and popular young witch - nailed her song Popular, and showed ownership of her role.
"This production was life changing and I was lucky enough to play a dream role," she said.
"The cast, crew and orchestra all got to work together as one big family and I have made lifelong friendships."
Liam Dwyer shone as Fiyero, captain of the guard and love interest of the witches, while Caitlin Stephenson, as Madame Morrible, lead her students and future denizens of the Emerald City with firmness.
Montanna Schlebusch was moving as the quiet and intelligent Doctor Dillamond, Corey Harvey as the Wizard of Oz bringing life and illusion to the role.
Erin Pratt and Caleb Stace played the impossible couple of Nessarose and Boq.
A statement from the College congratulated all the students who were involved in "such a polished performance".
They also thanked "the staff involved who dedicated innumerable extra hours to guide and develop each student involved ... from the cast to the Tech and Hospitality Crews, for the hours stitching costumes, painting props and setting up for the performances".
"And to the orchestra, made up of students both past, present and parent volunteers, who played the difficult pieces of music, your performance and professionalism supplied an amazing sound track to the production, thank you for devoting so much time and talent to the College," the statement said.
Rouse Hill Anglican was one of the first schools in Australia to be given the rights to perform Wicked, and audience members were captivated during the five performances.
"Staff, students, orchestra, cast and crew are all to be applauded on such a memorable and professional performance and we look forward to the next production by Rouse Hill Anglican College," the College said.