CHESTERFIELD: Peak Performance launch production of The Merry Widow

Peak Performers dress rehearsal
Peak Performers dress rehearsal

The Merry Widow is not the most romantically titled operetta, but it has a special place in the hearts of Sarah and Richard Potts.

The Merry Widow is not the most romantically titled operetta, but it has a special place in the hearts of Sarah and Richard Potts.

They first met at a rehearsal for the work in which Sarah played the title role and Richard was cast as the widow’s former suitor Count Danilo.

Richard said: “It was about 15 or 16 years ago when I went along to the first rehearsal and everyone had cried off. There was just Sarah and me in the house of the musical director.”

Sarah said: “It was one of the first shows that I had done for Carlton Operatic Society”

The leading couple’s on-stage partnership blossomed into true love and they tied the knot 12 years ago.

Playing the role of Danilo in The Merry Widow is second nature to Richard, a retired facility engineer.

He has been cast in the role seven times and next week steps into Danilo’s shoes for the second time with Chesterfield-based Peak Performance.

He said: “Last time, I got about half an hour’s notice to fill in at the Pomegranate Theatre for a performer who had lost his voice. We were doing it for Present Company two or three weeks later so I knew the role.

“I like playing Danilo. He is wealthy, good looking, single….it is what every man would like to be, I imagine.”

Sarah is playing merry widow Hanna for the first time with Peak Performance, having played her twice before for Present Company.

She is tasked with the show’s best-known song, Vilia. “There is a huge expectation from people waiting to hear it which puts pressure on a performer,” said Sarah.

“It is easy playing a big part because you can build up momentum and you have more opportunity to build up rapport with the audience. The audience are more forgiving if they are involved with your character.

“As it is an operetta, you put so much more into the singing because you haven’t got much dialogue.

Sarah, who lives in Gedling, Nottingham, works as an employment officer for the probation service and is a singing teacher.

She spends much of her free time in theatrical activities. This month she has been balancing rehearsals for The Merry Widow with a production of Carmen for New Opera Company and rehearsals for Present Company’s 25th anniversary show, a production of Hello Dolly to be staged at Buxton Opera House in August.

“Singing in three different genres - operetta, opera and musical - can sometimes be very draining,” she added.s

The Merry Widow runs at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, from May 29-June 1. Performances are at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets £12; call 01246 345222 or www. chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk