Young love shines bright

THE pressure is on for Queanbeyan's Lachlan Whan as he swaps his dancing shoes for a lead role in The Q's latest musical West Side Story.

Lachlan plays the role of the young protagonist, Tony, a member of a gang known as the Jets, who falls head over heels in love with Maria, the sister of Benardo, the leader of a rival gang named the Sharks.

It's a challenging part for the 20-year-old not only because of the acting and singing components but also because it's his first lead role in an adult production. Lachlan said he's used to minor and choral roles but is looking forward to playing a bigger part.

"When you're singing and acting a lot of it is about you, being that it's just me and being solo there's a lot of pressure but I enjoy it and look forward to performing," he said. "When you're dancing you're doing it as a group but this time it's just me and Maria on stage. It's more about the individual, they're relying solely on you."

He describes the character of Tony as being "one in a million".

"He's hopeful, he's wanting something more ... he sees Maria and it's love at first sight," he said.

"It's quite a serious and dramatic role and very challenging ... it's a very emotionally and physically demanding role. Singing and acting is very tiring and after the show I'm just completely drained. It's more tiring than the shows I've done as a dancer."

A self-confessed jock while attending Karabar High School, Lachlan abandoned the sports field for the stage when he was cajoled into being part of the school play.

His goal is to become a triple threat - singing, dancing and acting his way through productions.

"I wasn't confident with my singing but doing this show I've developed it where I'm now at the stage that I'm almost confident," he said.

"There's been a lot of singing in the shower, it's a fantastic rehearsal space."

Another surprisingly fantastic rehearsal space is retailer Nouveau Riche Bridal and Evening Wear located on Queanbeyan's main street. A selection of the cast gathered there earlier in the week for the musical's media launch.

Lachlan and his Maria, played by Nicola Hall, sang "Tonight" as part of the performance and the local lad has nothing to worry about his vocal chops seem up to scratch.

"I think if we take the audience on the emotional journey with us, get them them to think and feel for us as characters then we've done our job."

n West Side Story is on from February 8 to 24 at the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. Tickets cost $45/$39. For more information and bookings call 6285 6290 or visit theq.net.au

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