Seniors strut their stuff

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Three Queenstown teenage girls will take centre stage next week after years of working their way up the theatre ranks. 

Seventeen-year-olds Kate Burns and Ruby Bain plus Ngawai Davis, 18, have the lead roles in Wakatipu High’s latest musical Dreamgirls, which opens next Tuesday. 

Ruby and Kate – the younger sister of talented local singer and actor Emily Burns – have been performing in high school musicals for the past few years. The pair started in the ensemble, eventually taking small parts before landing their first big role in their final year. 

And accomplished singer Ngawai makes her acting debut – although she’s no stranger to the stage, having performed in Kiwi Haka shows up Skyline Gondola and in the Wakatipu community kapa haka group for years. 

The girls, who once looked up to their older peers in lead roles, are now role models for the many young students in the popular musical. 

“I used to look up to the lead actors and want to be like them. Now the younger kids look up to us, which is pretty awesome. We help them out, being positive and showing commitment,” Kate says. 

Ruby adds: “We’re trying to teach the kids to have faith in the musical. A lot of them get a bit worried about how it’s going to go down. We tell them that we have to work as a group, together.” 

Dreamgirls director and drama teacher Kate Moetaua says about 20 of the 50-strong cast are in Years 9 and 10.
“There are a lot of juniors in this show which is really cool, and for many it’s a totally new experience for them. It means the future looks really bright for theatre and drama at the school.” 

Dreamgirls is a Broadway show from the early 1980s made into a film in 2006 and tells the story of three women singers on their way to stardom. It features the Motown sound of the 1960s and early 1970s. 

Dreamgirls runs till June 14 at Queenstown Memorial Centre.