The young stars of an East Kilbride school’s first summer show in three years have enjoyed a showbiz boost this week.
Glasgow actor Elaine Mackenzie Ellis has sent a message of support to Duncanrig Secondary as they prepare to stage Sunshine on Leith.
The Rab C Nesbitt and Still Game star appeared in the film version of the musical, based on songs from The Proclaimers.
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She is one of Glasgow’s best-known stage and film stars, having starred as Natalie in Rab C Nesbitt, the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the King’s Theatre, and alongside Emily Mortimer and Gerard Butler in Dear Frankie.
She recently appeared in the short film Censorship, starring Tom Conti.
“Sunshine on Leith was a fabulous film to work on, and I hope everyone at Duncanrig has a great time being a part of it,” she told Lanarkshire Live.
“I love the energy and enthusiasm that young people bring to productions – there’s nothing better than a school show.
“The past two years have been very difficult for everyone in the creative arts – being part of a show like this is so much more for the kids involved than just having the opportunity to play and to sing is to be with your buddies, learn new skills and have a good time.
“So it’s great to see everyone getting back to what they love to do.”
Sunshine on Leith tells the story of Ally and Davy, two young soldiers returning to their lives after returning from Afghanistan. Through The Proclaimers’ incredible songs, including the title track, Let’s Get Married and 500 Miles, they attempt to adjust to life outside the military and deal with the daily struggles of love, life and friendship.
Over 40 students participate in the production of Duncanrig, including a talented behind-the-scenes team involved in set construction, costumes, makeup and props. Students also play key roles behind the scenes.
“We’re all very excited to do the show,” said Kirsty Wilson, 14, who shares the role of Davy’s mother Jean (the role made famous by Jane Horrocks in the film version) with Katie McKenna, 17 years old.
“It was hard work learning the lines, but it was an amazing opportunity for us. I would never have met so many people from different age groups without it, so it was great.
Logan Laughlin, 17, who plays Davy’s father, Rab, wants to be a film and television actor when he leaves school. He said: “Rab doesn’t look like me so it was a challenge to play against someone like that and I learned a lot.
“Covid meant we couldn’t do anything like this, so it will be great to have our friends and families back at school to see the show.”
The East Kilbride School Summer Show is a popular fixture on the town’s cultural calendar, so staff are delighted to be able to welcome back the community after a long absence due to Covid.
Drama teacher Heather Rodger, who runs the show with colleagues Rachael White and Katy-Anne McGlade, said the whole team was energized by Elaine’s message of support.
“We are so grateful to him for taking the time to support us,” she said. “It was important for us to come back with a fantastic and feel-good show.”
She explained: “After the past two and a half years, everyone needs a lift and Sunshine on Leith is the most uplifting sight.
“We wanted to do a production that would involve the whole school and get the audience singing along – and those are such great songs that everyone knows.”
“There are sad scenes and themes that appeal to young actors, but we have a very strong cast this year, some of whom are pursuing drama studies, and many young students appearing in a show for the very first time. “
Duncanrig’s award-winning music and theater department, led by Jane Ramsay, has worked hard to stage Sunshine on Leith since Covid restrictions were finally lifted last year.
Heather added: “We’re really proud of them all and hope everyone comes to see it – it’s going to be spectacular.”
To buy tickets for Sunshine on Leith, which runs from June 15-17, call Duncanrig Secondary on 01355 588800.
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