APPEARING on stage at Eden Court should be no problem for Garry Black — after all he started his stage experience at the Carnegie Hall.
All right, not the New York one, but the one in his old home town of Dunfermline.
However, Black, who takes the lead role in Starlight Musical Theatre’s version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, also has plenty of experience of the Eden Court stage, including the lead role in Oklahoma! and playing a memorable Luther Billis in South Pacific.
It was as a schoolboy in Dunfermline, however, that Black began his stage career.
After getting his first taste of performing on holiday as "a happy accident" while still in school, Black came home to Fife and quickly found a local youth theatre — Carnegie Youth Theatre — and was accepted as a member that night.
"My first appearance was carrying a roll of carpet across a stage," he recalled with a laugh.
"I just carried on from there and joined various companies in Fife."
When his work transferred him to Inverness, Black had to take an enforced break as though he spent the week in Inverness, he returned to Fife for the weekends, making rehearsals difficult.
It was only when he made the permanent move to the Highlands that he was able to get involved in theatre again and joined Inverness Opera Company.
"When I joined, Eden Court was getting renovated at the time and they were doing shows out at Culloden Academy, so I had a few solos in that," Black explained.
The Hollywood to Broadway shows at Culloden Academy were, like last year’s Next! from Starlight Theatre, a selection of hit songs from the shows, but for the company’s return to Eden Court IOC opted for one of the most popular of Broadway musicals in Oklahoma! with Black taking his first lead role for the company as Curly.
Various roles have followed with both Inverness Opera Company and Starlight, with Black once again finding himself heading to the American West as Adam, the oldest of seven brothers seeking female companionship in 19th century Oregon.
"Most of the roles I’ve done, I’ve had to do an American accent — whether they are successful or not, I couldn’t say," he said.
"A New York accent is completely different from a Southern accent, so it’s good to get as close as you can — for a Scotsman.
"I’m probably an actor that can sing — slightly. But I do enjoy it when you get a good song, especially when you are with a good group of people. And I do like music — not just musicals, but general pop and chart music, etc."
However, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which started life as a 1954 film before transferring to the stage, was not a show he was totally familiar with before he was cast.
"I’d never actually seen it from start to finish, but I was aware of it and I was aware of the songs," he said.
"It was like Fiddler on The Roof where I’d actually seen the musical before I did it on stage. Seven Brides I’d never watched before I got the role of Adam and obviously had to look into the background of who I was playing and the type of character he is."
As the run gets closer, Black admits he has started to feel the pressure a little.
"But the people I work with are just so friendly and supportive," he added.
"If I’ve got a problem with anything, as with anyone in the cast, I can quite happily approach the directing team who will quickly sort it out for you. Having the support of the chorus as well makes my job a lot easier.
"There are quite a few people I have worked before, as well as people that I haven’t. I have worked with Caroline MacPherson, who plays (female lead) Millie, before, but I’ve never acted opposite her before. We do kind of know how each other works, so it was a pretty easy match up, as far as I’m concerned, to work with her. But it’s also good to work with a variety of people and get a variety of opinions."
He also likes a variety of musical numbers.
"Every song has it’s own merit," Black said.
"In South Pacific you have Nothing Like A Dame, which is a boisterous song and more about having a laugh. I probably do enjoy them more because that’s what it’s all about for me, pure enjoyment. But there are other songs, like one in Seven Brides called Love Never Goes Away, which is just a really beautiful song. It’s just really difficult to pick one particular song."
Black admits there are a few shows he would love to try, but hesitates to name a particular role.
"Sometimes you go for a part, but a director sees you in a completely different part," he explained.
"Getting any part in a show, I think, is quite good, no matter how small. I just like playing different characters.
"But the show I would like to do is The Little Shop of Horrors — I got to sing one of the songs last year in ‘Next!’ There are a few parts I would like to play and I’d be more than happy to get any of them."
•Starlight Musical Theatre present Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, from Wednesday 14th to Saturday 17th August with evening performances at 8pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
We have two pairs of tickets for Starlight Musical Theatre’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to give away to readers who can answer the following question?
Which future star of Dallas played the lead role of Adam in the 1954 film version?
a) Larry Hagman
b) Howard Keel
c) George Kennedy
Entries, including ypur answer, name and a daytime telehone number, should be sent by email, catchlined Seven Brides Competition, to firstname.lastname@example.org by 10am Wednesday 14th August.