THE long search for a girl to take on the iconic role of Grace Darling in a show about her life is over and writers Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood couldn’t be happier with their leading lady.
Catherine Dryden, 23, from Durham, will play the 19th century Northumberland sea rescue heroine who, with her father on September 7, 1838, rescued nine people after their ship had struck the notorious Harcar rocks, a part of the Farne Islands situated off the Northumberland Coast between Bamburgh and Seahouses.
Tragically Grace died of TB in 1842 aged only 26, four years after her heroic deed.
‘Amazing Grace’, which has been written by Tyneside-based writers Ed and Trevor, will be performed at ten theatres in the region throughout October and November, including The Maltings where it will grace the stage on Thursday and Friday, November 1 and 2.
The writers, with the show’s director Emma Roxburgh, auditioned 20 local actresses for the part and Catherine, a Musical Theatre graduate from the Newcastle College, won the role against some strong competition.
Trevor explained: “This is our ninth full play and we’ve been involved in dozens of productions of them but this was the most difficult casting decision we’ve had to make because all of the candidates were excellent, which shows the depth of acting talent we have in the region.
“The story is about a film company coming to Northumberland to make a movie about Grace Darling so we were looking specifically for someone who could not only play the historical Grace Darling but the modern character of Grace Armstrong, who is the lead actress in a film.
“Catherine fitted the role perfectly.”
Catherine’s first appearance on stage was with Chester-le-Street Theatre Group when she was three. Her theatre credits currently include ‘Don’t Quote Me’ at Northern Stage, ‘The Birthday Blaze’ at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and ‘The Wind Road Boys’ at Sunderland Empire.
Discussing the role, she said: “I am delighted to be selected for this prestigious piece of theatre, especially playing the role of Grace Darling. She’s a terrific character with a lot of fiery passion and determination.
“Ed and Trevor have a fantastic reputation in the region and nationally and the play is great. It’s a brilliant opportunity.”