The perks of being a DULOG cast member

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We are blessed in Durham with a number of exquisite theatre companies, offering what is often professional-quality drama, comedy or entertainment, for a fraction of the cost of the West End or most UK professional theatre venues. From the intimate surrounds of college halls, to the resplendent heights of the Cathedral itself, the spaces available for artistic expression in Durham know no bound. However, the Gala Theatre is a standalone jewel in Durham’s theatre roster, where all the best actors and actresses in Durham aspire to perform, and all Durham writers and directors dream of seeing their work take form on those acclaimed boards. So, for the team behind DULOG’s Anything Goes, this is truly an opportunity to be seized upon wholeheartedly.

It was Laurence Olivier who spoke most eloquently of the role of theatres in enhancing one’s local community in his 1971 inaugural House of Lords address, remarking that a great theatre is to a city: “the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture”. DULOG (Durham University Light Opera Group) is Durham University’s largest musical theatre group and they lay on two large-scale performances a year, ranging from feel-good classics to more musically and narratively complex productions. Involving over 80 students across the cast, orchestra, creative, production and design teams, this production will without doubt be a testament to the rich stores of talent and passion to be found in Durham. Anything Goes can only serve to unfold in the most sophisticated and ebullient manner, the pent-up dynamism to be found here in our city.

As is often the case with Durham Student Theatre, there is a strong social aspect as well

Molly Bell, an actress in the Ensemble, remarks of rehearsals that: “The Thursday of Gala week began bright and early with a 9am rehearsal of Act 1, Scene 2”, in which many important introductions are made, and involves much of the cast. Molly went on to say that: “It was a lot of fun seeing our director Emily Phillips’ creative vision come to life” as she watched her fellow cast members “shine with their comedic timing”. In particular, Molly said that she “loved making my entrance in this scene as an FBI agent, as I find my onstage interactions really entertaining.”

A notable feature of creating this production, is that the cast and crew arrived back in Durham a week early, to provide rigorous and round-the-clock preparation. However, as is often the case with Durham Student Theatre, there is a strong social aspect as well. Tom Carroll, a dancer in Anything Goes, informs me that after rehearsals wrapped at 9pm on the Friday, the cast and crew “fluttered down Saddler Street and into the Library… Bar, where we had a few drinks and laughs”, ending up with a night in Jimmy’s, where “the vibes were great, though the music as always wasn’t”. Although Tom informs me that they did all make it home successfully, Tom does confide also that his “fairy wings barely let me through my door”. These antics are certainly unsurprising considering the busy week of rehearsals previous – it seems letting one’s hair down is a central perk of being a DULOG cast member.

Their love of music will always be closest to their hearts

Nonetheless, as easy as it is for such an energetic and outgoing cast to get caught up in the social side, what is clear is that their love of music will always be closest to their hearts. Joe Butler-Smith, the ‘Dance Captain’, fills me in on the rehearsal process in this regard. Joe says that the team spent Wednesday going over some songs with the male ensemble, and that “we started with the ones everyone is in” before moving on to “the sailor quartet”. Joe informs me that: “We got really excited with the harmonies for ‘All through the night’ particularly”.

According to DULOG, Anything Goes will take place “on the glamourous ocean liner the S.S. American”, with this Golden Age musical comedy following “the madcap antics that occur as passengers onboard chart the course to true love”. DULOG informs me that Anything Goes is “packed to the brim” not only with forbidden romance and comical disguises, but also features a crew of tap-dancing sailors. What more could a Durham audience-goer possibly ask for? Certainly, DULOG’s Anything Goes is set to be a highlight of Epiphany term. It will be on show at the Gala Theatre from Tuesday the 30th of January to Saturday the 3rd of February.

Image credit: DULOG Theatre

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