PREVIEW: Students keep their nose to the grindstone

Cyrano de Bergerac by Duchess’s High School, at Alnwick Playhouse, November 5-7, 7.30pm, tickets £8, concessions £7, child/student £6.

Hour upon hour of rehearsing by the dedicated students of an Alnwick school is set to culminate in another must-see show.

Poster for Cyrano de Bergerac by the Duchess's Community High School.

Poster for Cyrano de Bergerac by the Duchess's Community High School.

I was fortunate to be allowed access behind the scenes for a glimpse of the progress being made in the latest in a long line of brilliant productions by the Duchess’s Community High School.

Following hard on the heels of other autumn dramas, such as Wuthering Heights and The Crucible, and spring blockbuster musicals, like Grease and Return to the Forbidden Planet, comes Cyrano De Bergerac.

This classic comedy, written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand and based on the life a soldier in the French army who became a celebrated poet.

Cyrano, as well as being an outstanding duelist, was known for having a very large nose, which caused him self-doubt and interferred with his wooing of distant cousin Roxane.

Tyler Angus in rehearsals for the Duchess's Community High School, Alnwick, production of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Tyler Angus in rehearsals for the Duchess's Community High School, Alnwick, production of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Head of English and production director Martin Allenby said: “This year is a departure from what we normally do in the November. The play is a French comedy – we tend to stick very firmly in the tragic genre.

“We have some excellent students in the cast this year and also backstage and in the sound and lighting team. When you come and see one of our productions, one of the great things that we pride ourselves on is the production is fully student-led on the evenings.

“We are very excited about what the next couple of weeks could bring and we are very proud of our traditions. We just hope that, once again, the Alnwick community come out in their numbers and join us in celebrating the outstanding talents that we have within our community.”

Students have given up every evening, Monday to Friday, and during the day on Sundays to rehearse. That commitment and hard work in an intense eight-week period has reaped rewards, as I discovered.

Even with a couple of weeks to go to the performance, they were polished and professional.

Fellow student Amber Brown has penned some amazing tunes that the cast sing a cappella and wouldn’t be out of place in a West End musical.

If my brief preview is anything to go by, audiences are in for a treat.

THE CYRANO CAST LIST

Tyler Angus: Cyrano de Bergerac

Daniel Thomassen: Christian de Neuvilliette

Erik Bagenal-Lowe: Count Antoine de Guiche

Josie Donald: Le Bret

Fynn Riseborough: Rageneau

Lindsay Manion: Roxane

Jess Field: Mother Margaret (Duenna/Cuigy/Carbonne)

Leonie Douglas: Sister Clare (Ligniere/Montfleury/Musketeer/1st Cadet)

Amy Barrett: Sister Teresa (Thief/Valvert/Lise/Clomire/3rd Cadet)

Hannah Lamb: Sister Martha (Busybody/Gremoine/1st Poet/2nd Cadet)

Kirsty Hensleigh: Sister Agnes (Brisaille/2nd Poet/Priest/Sentinel)

Ella Paul: Sister Rosa (Orange Girl/3rd Poet/4th Cadet)