If you know anything about me, you’ll know I have a hunger for creativity and a love for anything that exudes inclusivity, integration and diversity. So, if you put me in a room where all the above are happening, I’m guaranteed to be in my element… On Thursday, I took a front row seat as Stardust Theatre Group performed their musical, Summer Nights. It was an hour filled with flair, enthusiasm and a lot of Greased Lightnin’. What more do you want from a midweek matinée?
I get it. What’s so special about that? Theatre groups from around the world have, at some point, put their own spin on Grease; the soundtrack has been played countless times and everyone’s done with hearing John and Olivia milk it for all its worth. Well, firstly, I don’t think anyone will ever be tired of listening to those cheesy tunes; it’s the international not so guilty pleasure. It’s been performed so much because we’re as head over heels with it now as we were forty years ago. But most importantly, Stardust is more than just a theatre group, and this was more than just a rendition of a classic.
In September 2017, Sara Sprague and Rachel Pavitt found there was a gap in the arts market for adults with additional needs. As with most things in the world of disability, drama groups are few and far between. Sara and Rachel saw this and felt that someone’s calling for performing should not be quashed, irrespective of age or ability. And so, with the help of Every-One, a charity that works to deliver person-centred projects, Stardust became a reality.
Please, don’t think I’m aiming for your sympathy vote. Just because the Stardust gang have disabilities does not mean they shouldn’t be judged on a level playing field. If I’d fallen asleep during Beauty School Dropout, I’d tell you. But honestly, all I could see on the Terry O’Toole Stage was an overwhelming desire and determination to prove that despite their differences, they were young actors, doing what they do best. The cast showcased their talent through their individual styles and shining personalities. Granted, it didn’t go unnoticed that the folks in wheelchairs took a little longer to travel on and off stage, or that occasionally dialogue was hard to hear because of speech impediments. However, none of that took away from the performance. It was slick, professional and the costumes were on point. Besides, those guys have enough energy and sass to have the audience shoo-bop sha-wadding for the rest of the year!
Stardust has a vision which centres around collaboration, expression and passion, all of which were evident on stage. Whilst each cast member blossomed in their own moment; everyone was thrilled when they collectively nailed it. On that note, it would be remiss of me not to mention the ensemble who were utterly fabulous and hopelessly devoted to ensuring the shebang went without a hitch.
Summer Nights was unashamedly peppered with giggles, high fives and “yeah bois” which added to the sheer joy that emanated from the cast and audience alike. In my mind, this proves that Stardust is the word.
To find out more information, to get involved or to donate to Stardust, visit their Facebook page or go to the Every-One website.