Twenty years after strutting their stuff in an exhilarating production of Grease, two friends are facing a new challenge as co-directors when the musical is presented for a second time by LADOS at Lancaster’s Grand Theatre.
And as they make their production debuts, after nearly 30 years on stage together in the glare of the footlights, Sarah Pye and Suzanne Ward are acutely aware they are continuing remarkable family links with the professional and amateur stage stretching back nearly a century.
In Sarah’s case her theatrical family tree is rooted with her late grandfather Eddie Morrell, one of the country’s top comics and song and dance men who forged an illustrious association with Morecambe’s Central Pier, where he was general manager and produced and starred in the famous Starlights summer show, which was to run for a record-breaking 26 years in the resort.
Sarah’s father, John, first appeared on stage with his dad, Eddie, as a three-year-old and was to make many more appearances along with sisters Juel and Janita. John enjoyed a semi-professional career, following his father’s comic and song and dance tracks, before turning to a long and successful career in journalism, while still appearing in amateur shows, notably with Lancaster Red Rose.
Sarah, who lives in Over Wyresdale, played Rizzo in the 1993 Grease production but had landed her first starring role back in 1985 in the LADOS production of Annie.
She went on to appear in a succession of shows until 2005 when she moved backstage.
However, she is now kept busy as her daughter Lottie picks up the theatrical banner, having already appeared in two Morecambe Amateurs’ productions.
Suzanne was Frenchy in the 1993 version of Grease, which was produced by her mother, Peggy Brierley, who went on to produce a further 25 shows for LADOS. Prior to joining the company Peggy, who lives in Torrisholme with husband David, was a leading singer and actress.
Sarah and Suzanne have already thrown themselves into preparations for Grease, which runs at the Grand Theatre from September 10 to 14, with tickets on sale now at the theatre.
With six performances, including one matinee, to lick into shape they say they are honoured and excited to have been given the responsibility.
Sarah explained: “Between us we have to make lots of phone calls and skyping as we pull the production together and we are loving it.”
The two have been friends since 1986 and believe their friendship is strong enough to withstand any unexpected co-director strains.
“We are honest with each other and have never fallen out. We won’t now!” Sarah insisted.