BWW Blog: Jesse Swimm of Tuacahn's MARY POPPINS - There's a Light At the End of the Tunnel
What do you get when you take a group of actors, 6 weeks of skate school, and a beautiful outdoor theatre? You get the regional premiere of Tuacahn's "Starlight Express". This past Thursday was the last time my quadruple threat cast (they can now add skating to their acting, singing, and dancing skill set) performed this high-octane show that has been thrilling audiences throughout Southern Utah all season long. For those that don't know the show it is the most unique experience on stage that you can have next to Cirque du Soleil. The concept is simple; through the mind of one young boy we get a glimpse into his imagination as he puts his trains to the test race after race. We have the good guys (Rusty & Poppa), the bad boys (Greaseball & Electra), and the girls who pine for them (Pearl & Dinah). All of this while skating on and off the stage as well as throughout the audience (the skate track actually weaved through the seats of Tuacahn) as they try to be the fastest train on the track.
Now you have to understand by no means were any of our cast professional skaters. I mean a lot of them had been to a roller rink or skated in a park but I don't truly think anyone knew exactly what they would be getting into when they were cast in this show. Fortunate for them however we had three incredible individuals who really helped with the process, Dustin Dubreuil (Electra), James Berkley (Trax), and Ben Tucker (Hopper 3). Each of them had been a member of "Starlight Express" either in London, Germany, or the tour. They put the cast through their paces and got them up to speed with some of the most difficult maneuvers on a skate rink that any of them have ever attempted. From day one of rehearsal to opening night it was such an incredible sight to witness. My friends not only learned how to skate but how to skate like x-game junkies, it was awesome. I saw them speed down the bowl, rabbit ear up the lip, and even flip into position; it was a sight to behold.
As the show continued it's successful run their skills got better and they continued to push the envelope up until the final musical number. You couldn't help but get caught up in the show and at times you felt like a kid. It was an adrenalin rush the minute the cast rolled onstage. You actually had the audience cheering for their favorite trains and booing for the ones they didn't as the story unfolded. All in all this show had heart and you could hear it in the voices of the cast. Steven Goldsmith as Rusty was lovable, and charming as his voice soared singing "Starlight Express" you couldn't help but get chills. His mentor Poppa (Mingo Long) was an incredible vocal master who could scat and riff like no one I have met. As for the "villains" of our show Todd Dubail as Greaseball oozed sexuality that basically ripped through the audience and Dustin Dubreuil (Electra) was as close to a heavy metal rocker as you could get. And we can't forget the ladies, Delaney Westfall as Pearl (get ready for her New York) had a soulful voice that shook you the core while Gail Bennett (Dinah) singing "U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D." had you laughing till tears were streaming down your face.
As the show came to a close and the final firework soared through the sky I was never more proud of what my friends had accomplished. I am always amazed at what we do as performers. No matter the challenge, no matter the task at hand we push ourselves to the brink. We go home bruised and scratched but at the end of it we come out shining and for a moment we take the audience with us as we head towards that final destination.
It's race time, time to start the show
Electra (Dustin Dubreuil) gets some last minute adjustments before the show
A final circle up before the show
"I'm just the fastest thing you've ever seen" (Todd Dubail)