ON STAGE: Richard Chiverrell, in his role as Lazar Wolf in the sell-out Fiddler on the Roof, believes Hello, Dolly! will be equally successful with its blend of comedy, colour, dance and song.
ON STAGE: Richard Chiverrell, in his role as Lazar Wolf in the sell-out Fiddler on the Roof, believes Hello, Dolly! will be equally successful with its blend of comedy, colour, dance and song. MARY QUADE

Hard work and pain: Musicals not all about the singing

FOR the first six months, Richard Chiverrell thought about leaving Toowoomba Choral Society - that was almost 20 years and 22 productions ago.

"It was an introduction by fire because I'd never done any singing except at school," said Richard, now 73 and in practice for September's presentation of Hello Dolly.

"I thought, I'm not a developed singer and there are so many talented people here ... but everyone helps ... you're never an isolated person.

"I have learnt so much about music and stagecraft that I never knew existed."

While he also takes part in eisteddfods and concerts, musicals remain his true love, but they are not without their anxieties, even after all this time.

"Masochism is definitely high on the agenda!" Richard laughed.

"Every time you walk out on stage, you get nervous - even people with a lot more experience and more professional than me - it's the adrenaline rush.

"But there's a wonderful elation when the whole thing works and you have the audience there - it's addictive."

While playing Gus, the old theatre cat, in Cats was his favourite role, he said each musical had its appeal and Hello Dolly was no exception.

"It's very colourful and lively, and everyone knows the big songs - it will be a lot of fun for the audience," he said.

Those songs include, of course, Hello, Dolly! as well as It takes a Woman, Before the Parade Passes By and It Only Takes a Moment.

The show, made famous by Barbra Streisand in the lead role, tells the story of the widow Dolly Levi (Shannon Gralow), a socialite turned matchmaker, as she schemes to make her own romantic designs come true with the cantankerous but rich Horace Vandergelder (Justin Tamblyn).

Richard, who most recently played Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof, said romantic leads were "not exactly his thing" but men's voices were always needed, and he is happy to be singing backstage, in the ensemble, and playing the bit part of a judge in Dolly.

However, he said, it didn't matter what part you played, it was the teamwork, music, fun and friendship which really counted.

"Whenever you start a play or musical concert, it's like you form a new family, because you work so closely together," Richard said.

And he highly recommends being part of the choral society, saying "you'll never be bored!"

As well as Dolly, Richard is currently practicing for the society's Winter Nocturne at 7pm on Saturday, August 18 at the Choral Society Hall, and a Cantata.

To find out more about the society and its original or contemporary choirs, go to www.toowoombachoralsociety.com.au or call 0467 260 866.

Hello, Dolly! is at the Empire Theatre from September 7-9: Friday at 7.30pm, Saturday at 1.30pm and 7.30pm, and Sunday at 1.30pm. Tickets are $40 adults and $33 Concession. Go to www.empiretheatre.com.au or call 1300 655 299.


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