Opera celebrates centenary in style with Disney show-stopper

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ONE hundred years ago Hawick Amateur Operatic Society staged its first production. And ever since then well over 1,000 performers have helped brighten up the grey auld toon by appearing on various stages during the society’s 89 productions.

This week, HAOS celebrated its centenary by putting on Beauty and the Beast at the town hall. And what a wonderful anniversary it turned out to be.

The society wanted it to be something special and that was why Beauty and the Beast was carefully chosen, as it is a relatively new musical and certainly something special.

This writer continues on the word special in describing the performance of Natalie Paterson who plays one of the leading roles in the show.

For Natalie is something special plus a little bit more besides. An extremely talented performer, she simply stars in her portrayal of Belle, the young girl who, as the story progresses, falls in love with the Beast. Apart from shining in singing numbers such as ‘Belle,’ ‘No Matter What,’ ‘Something There’ and ‘A Change in Me,’ Natalie brings about further brightness with refreshing acting skills.

Right up there in the top bracket with Natalie is Iain Scott as the Beast. Playing this part is demanding and the role takes a lot of filling to be done properly. Iain has risen to this challenge in style though.

His performance is first class, and highlighted by the powerhouse singing of ‘How Long Must This Go On,’ ‘If I Can’t Love Her,’ and ‘Something There.’

David Paterson, the elder brother of Natalie, keeps the Paterson family flag flying high in his part as Gaston. A flamboyant, loud, know-it-all character, Gaston, who likes to show a bit of muscle, is extremely well played by David. And for good measure, he shows what a tremendous singer he is with his rendering of ‘Me,’ ‘Maison Des Lunes’ and ‘The Mob Song.’

The castle in which the Beast lives is full of servants, who although once humans, are now enchanted objects due to the spell that has been cast upon them, as well as the Beast.

And what a wonderful and colouful bunch of oddities they are. New face Pamela Scott makes an impressive debut as Mrs Potts and is excellent in her singing of Beauty and the Beast, which is a beautiful number.

Rachel Inglis as the flighty French maid and Shelagh Duncan as Madame de la Grand Bouche are both spot on as well.

Richard Millan (Lumiere) and Craig McCredie (Cogsworth) have great chemistry between them and are a super double act who produce plenty laughs.

Brothers Paul and Martin Goldie are delights in their role as Chip, while the show also includes the boys’ mum Frances, and sisters Louisa and Rachel.

Jim Arbon, who has more than made his mark in HAOS productions over the years, once again produces the goods to the full as Maurice, the eccentric father of Belle.

Billy Rooney as Lefou, Paul Lockie as Monsieur D’Arque, Fergus Hislop as the Young Prince and Silly Girls Janie Mallin, Ashley Wilkinson and Louise Szoneberg all make the most of their roles.

An excellent chorus is also very much part of this top-notch show.

Putting on Beauty and the Beast was a massive challenge for producer Brian McGlasson, although he had staged the show in Innerleithen a year back. However, it’s been a challenge well worth taking on, for under his guidance it has been a five-star production.

With choreographer Anne Anderson once more at the helm, the dancing was again lively, exhilarating and of a high standard.

Musical director Derek Calder got his side of the matters just perfect, as did his orchestra.