Duns Operatic riding High with latest success

Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society (DDAOS) stage High Society
Duns and District Amateur Operatic Society (DDAOS) stage High Society

Gone were the habits and bibles of last year and in their place champagne bottles and feather dusters as Duns Opera took ‘High Society’ to the stage last week.

‘The Sound of Music’ was a rip roaring success for the Society in 2012 and this year producer Eloner Crawford embraced the music of Cole Porter and took her cast and the Duns Volunteer Hall audience back to late 1930s America.

A good opening chorus number is the weapon of choice for many a producer and the ensemble, dressed as household servants, certainly didn’t let Eleanor down.

The show’s title track also gave Lisa Johnston her first foray onto the stage as Tracy Lord.

Lisa has appeared in many a Duns Opera production, but this was her first time as leading lady.

Looking and sounding a lot like Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon, Lisa put her self firmly on local theatre’s A-List with a superb performance

And for my money this was the strongest set of principal actors a Duns Opera show has boasted in a long time.

Numbers like ‘Throwing A Ball Tonight’ and ‘She’s Got That Thing’ could have been run of the mill uptempos had it not been for the enthusiasm of Lisa and her fellow Lords, Kate Lester as Margaret, Scarlet Hardy as Dinah and Euan McIver as Uncle Willie.

Scarlet stepped up from the chorus of Christmas pantomime ‘Cinderella’ to bring the house down as Tracy’s younger sister.

Her acting was confident and this was matched by a fine singing voice and French accent which was tres magnifique in ‘I Love Paris’

As he does every time he sets foot on stage for Duns Opera, Euan took to his role with real gusto. Uncle Willie was a lot different to his last role as an ugly sister but the thing the two parts had in common was great comic potential. And with a bright red nose, slurred speech and some fantastic facial expressions, Euan made drunk Willie a right hoot.

Funnyman roles are normally the theatrical guises associated with Peter Lerpiniere but as Dexter Haven, the real love of Tracey’s life, he had to show a different side.

Playing parts like Basil Fawlty in the past, local audiences haven’t really had a chance to hear Peter’s singing voice but he certainly didn’t do himself or them a dis-service. ‘Once Upon A Time’ and ‘True Love’ weren’t the easiest songs to sing but, along with Lisa, Peter made light work of them.

A fine singing voice is exactly what Rick Mondeau possesses and some of the closing notes of his solo number ‘I Worship You’ were mightily impressive.

As Tracey’s fiancee George, Rick had to play the wet blanket of the piece but rather than just go through the motions, he brought real enthusiasm to the role and revelled in the scene where George finally got a back bone and called the wedding off.

Lynn Gray has taken on a number of aliases in the past year when a near-naked pianist to Prince Charming and as hack Liz Imrie she showed her versatility again.

She was one half of a fine double act alongside impressive newcomer Nathaniel Forsyth’s Mike Connor and their immediately familiar duet ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ and both of their solo numbers ‘You’re Sensational’ and ‘He’s A Right Guy’ were delivered in fine fashion.

Cole Porter’s music served the cast of all ages tremendously well. The floor of the Volunteer Hall echoed to the sound of tapping feet and the champagne corks popped throughout should have been popped backstage to celebrate another Duns Operatic success.