First nights can more often that not be an occasion for nerves, forgotten lines and missed cues but there was nothing of the sort for Duns Opera.
A largely young cast blew the roof off the Volunteer Hall last Wednesday with ‘Grease’ and gave enough energy to power the town’s Christmas lights a hundred times over.
In her return to the Operatic Society fold leading lady Ashleigh definitely had the ‘Wright’ stuff for Sandy.
Although the image of Olivia Newton John in leather pants will never be erased, Ashleigh certainly put a new dimension on the role with a belting singing voice, best showcased in ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ and the preprise of ‘Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee’ and a confidence that made it look like she’d never stepped off the stage.
Her John Travolta for last week’s four night run, Mattthew Taylor was also as slick as his 1950s hairstyle. Matthew’s taken on all manner of parts for both Duns Opera and Players in the last few years and he definitely proved his worth as Danny Zuko.
At his best when sharing the stage with his fellow Burger Palace Boys, with ‘Greased Lightning’ a massive audience favourite, but he also shone with the more sensitive solo number ‘Alone At The Drive-in Movie’. Last seen in the emotive ‘Flare Path’, Patrick Watson was once again a real star as Kenickie. He embodied the cool and cheeky persona of his on stage alter ego, which fit the bill perfectly for ‘Greased Lightning’
He, Matthew and the fantastic comic trio of Arran Robertson-Kane (Roger), Nathaniel Forsyth (Sonny) and Josh Herbert (Doody) revved up the famous song to full throttle and a lot of credit must go to choreographer Sarah Aitken for not just that song but for all of the show’s high octane dance numbers.
The Pink Ladies were too rather nifty on their feet, led with sass and swagger by Lizzy Lerpiniere .
Lizzie was last in the spotlight for the fundraising performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ where she sent a chill down the spine with her poignant portrayal of one woman’s particularly harrowing experience.
She used plenty of the guts required for that show to make Rizzo into a force to be reckoned with but also showed a softer side, complete with fine vocals for ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’,.
Whereas Rizzo was a girl not to be messed with her fellow Pink Ladies were intent on having fun.
LIke Ashleigh, Holly Thomas made a triumphant return to Duns Opera action as Marty. Everything from her squeaky voice, quirky mannerisms and dazzling dancing made her own of the leading lights in the cast.
The same could also be said for Emma Hay who took her first principal role of Frenchy by the scruff of the neck and made her a comic character that the audience took to their hearts.
Emma Lindsay also made a fine first impression as gawky Jan while Caitlin Daley, like her character Patty was an excellent all rounder.
Showing his versatility to great comedic effect, Rob White went from his airman uniform of ‘Flare Path’ to the geek chic of Eugene , and older members of the cast Alex Watson, DC, Lynn Gray and Peter Lerpiniere accessorised their younger counterparts’ performances perfectly.
This was a production with so many highlights. Ensemble numbers ‘Born To Handjive’ and ‘We Go Together’ had many a pair of hands clapping, while Ashleigh and Matthew certainly did justice do the famous duets ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘You’re The One That I Want’. Success is the word!
Sandy - Ashleigh Wright
Danny - Matthew Taylor
Rizzo - Lizzy Lerpiniere Kenickie - Patrick Watson
Marty - Holly Thomas
Jan- Emma Lindsay
Frenchie - Emma Hay
Patty - Caitlin Daley
Roger- Arron Robertson-Kane
Sonny/Johnny Casino - Nathaniel Forsyth
Doody - Josh Herbert
Eugene - Rob White
Miss Lynch - Alex Watson
Cha-Cha - Lynn Gray
Teen Angel - DC
Vince Fontaine - Peter Lerpiniere
Chorus: Hannah Hay, Lydia Roberts, Hattie Watson, Sara Thomas, Oliver Smith, Jack Sanderson, John Hope, Rachel Gray, Rebekah
Herbert, April-Lea Taylor.
Director - Eloner Crawford
Musical director - Mike Hardy
Choreographer - Sarah Aitken
Stage Manager - Jim McDevitt
Sound - Marc Linglis
Lighting - Paul Daley
Scenery Design - Keith Little & Gemma Rice
Costumes - Julie Abbott
Hair - Danielle Fraser
Makeup - Jane Blaikie, Hazel Brydon, Jade Whellans