GS’s Rose heads Pemads Calendar Girls cast
Bob Eveleigh: It isn’t very often that one finds the current head of one amateur theatrical society taking the lead role in another’s society’s production.
But it is happening most successfully on-stage at the Pemads Little Theatre in Port Elizabeth at the moment.
PE Gilbert Sullivan Society President Rose Cowpar – a group specialising in musical theatre – is playing Chris in Calendar Girls for Pemads, a group which mixes musicals and the likes of comedy, drama, thrillers etc. in its annual programmes.
Chris is the real-life woman who sparked the idea of a group of Women’s Institute members in a North Yorkshire community posing semi-nude (never “naked”!) for a fund-raising calendar, leading to their becoming an international media sensation as the “Calendar Girls”.
It isn’t the first time that Rose has been associated with Pemads (officially the Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society) since she arrived in the Friendly City in 2006.
Immediately getting involved in the amateur theatre scene, by early 2008 she was playing Nancy in Greg Everard’s production of Oliver! and that year-end saw her tackling her first helming of a musical as co-director of the Pemads pantomime The Sleeping Beauty. 2009 saw her back in the Little Theatre in another character role as the dragon who ran the typing pool in another Everard production, Thoroughly Modern Millie.
But the Calendar Girls principal role is the first time PE theatregoers have seen her in a major non-musical part and she has received excellent reviews for her portrayal of Chris.
Rose Cowpar made her stage debut at the age of just five years in her native Australia in Jack and Jill and has never looked back theatrically!
She appeared in other pantomimes, such as Dick Whittington and Cinderella, as a youngster, then trained at the Conservatory Actor’s Studio and Darlo Drama in Sydney and had many outings in improvised theatre – or Theatresports as it is known (later carrying on with this particular activity in PE as well).
Her professional work Down Under included TV commercials and further regular appearances in restaurant dinner theatre and she organised countless theatre outings to see major musicals and straight plays.
Rose moved to Port Elizabeth in 2006 after marrying Ed Cowpar and the pair have become extremely well known as mine hosts of the popular brace of Captain’s Pubs, one in Central and the other on the beachfront.
Since arriving here, as is illustrated by her above quoted Pemads links, she also naturally quickly forged an association with the Gilbert Sullivan Society, the other main PE producer of stage musicals, and, since 2007, on the pure performance side, she has had character roles in Footloose (2007), High School Musical (2010), Fiela’s Child (both the 2011 and 2012 seasons and this year’s Sounds of South End.
And, proving her genuine “trouper” showbiz outlook, when there was no suitable part for which she could audition with her particular talents, she was equally happy to step back into the chorus, as she did in 2011’s Okladoma!
When not on-stage, realising that her Sleeping Beauty co-directorial chores had been very much a learning curve, Rose has grabbed every opportunity to learn more practically about various aspects of theatre production, travelling onward and upward by serving as Production Secretary for My Fair Lady (2009), Production Manager (Oklahoma!, and again for Evita last year), and even set builder and costumes co-ordinator for another 2012 presentation, Back to the ’80s.
2013 has already seen her again wearing her Production Manager hat for the society’s Sounds of South End.
In between all this, she has appeared in speciality spots in the regular annual GS Valentine’s Cabarets and the two revues masterminded by Garth Tavares, A Night on Broadway and Back to Broadway.
Not content with such hectic regular on-stage and back-stage production activity, administratively Rose became Secretary of the society in 2008, while 2009 found her carrying the Vice-Presidential, Secretarial and Marketing portfolios before she became President in 2011, a position she still holds.
And, these days, with the equally indefatigable Brenda Ower as costumes consultant, Rose can also be seen managing and hiring out the wide-ranging stock in the GE Wardrobe!
Over the past two years she has also put her considerable personal and society support behind the long-running Showtime Awards and Young Talent Development initiatives, with the result that the Society’s theatre, The Savoy in Adcockvale, because of its easy conversion versatility between a standard theatre and major cabaret layout, has now become the permanent home of the annual Showtime revues and musicals, now in their 24th year …
I personally regard Rose Cowpar as a “D-Girl”, simply because of her Dedication and Drive to continually support and improve the cause and quality of community theatre in PE.
And you can add “Dynamic”, as descriptive of the manner in which she approaches every project she touches in this particular field.
Yet there remains an element of humility about her, as witness her comment in the most recently published Gilbert Sullivan Society newsletter, in reference to her current role in Calendar Girls, which ends its run at the Little Theatre on Saturday evening.
I quote: “I’m very honoured to be performing in the cast alongside some of PE’s finest actresses and even more thrilled at the wonderful co-operation being built up between Pemads and GS. Our performing arts community here in PE may not be huge but we are blessed with so many passionate, committed and talented people I think we could achieve absolutely anything if we put our heads together. Congrats to Pemads and director Lesley Barnard on a brilliant show!”
And, bear in mind, she has achieved all the above while, day to day, functioning as business and marketing manager for her husband’s corporate operations!
Now, should you think that Rose is going to take some time off after Calendar Girls ends its season, think again.
Why? Because she moves straight into directing – as her debut solo assignment in the director’s chair – the GS Society revival of The Pirates of Penzance, to run in the Savoy in October/ November!
As they always say, if you want a job done, give it to the busiest person you know – and watch them become even busier …
Calendar Girls, with an ensemble cast headed by Rose Cowpar and Yolande Farrow and directed by Lesley Barnard, is currently being presented by the Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society (Pemads) in the Noel Morgan Auditorium at the Little Theatre, Port Elizabeth, nightly to Saturday, August 31, at 7.30pm. Book at Computicket.
Article source: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=33694