Charismatic, but sometimes scary . . . meet the lead character in the Blenheim Musical Theatre's latest production Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens.
It opened for a 12-night season at the Lakings Rd Theatre last night and actor Ashley De Castro knows it is a show everyone will enjoy.
Although classed as a musical, it's not the type only older aunts and uncles will appreciate, he says.
"There's an ‘underground' feel to it, because it's burlesque, it's cabaret, it's more left-field."
He plays Saucy Jack, the owner of a seedy nightclub on a planet called Frottage II. Saucy Jack is joined by seven other characters, Dr Whackoff (Dave Barrett), Sammy Sax (Simon Hay), Booby Shevalle (Blair McLean), Mitch Maypole (Liam Watchman), Jubilee Climax (Aley Schade), Bunny Lingus (Racheal Kenyon), Anna Labia (Eliza Elkington), Chesty Prospects (Bridget McNamara) and Vulva Savannah (Debra Hedley).
"I hope my character will surprise you . . . he can be very charismatic - and sometimes a bit scary," says Ashley.
He has arrived at the Blenheim theatre a few hours before a dress rehearsal this week to pose for some promotional pictures. Makeup artist Becky Spence gets him camera-ready after a few minutes' application of cosmetic powders and pastes.
"Since the lighting and makeup people came on board the show has stepped up," Ashley says, explaining actors can only do so much and makeup, lighting and sound complete the picture.
The Saucy Jack's cabaret club has become the scene of a series of murders so interstellar crime fighters the Space Vixens arrive to save the day with the Power of Disco.
Ashley is enjoying working with long-term Blenheim theatre director Duncan Whiting again. It was Duncan who guided his first stage moves in the Marlborough Children's Theatre, which Ashley joined when he was 9.
After finishing college, he completed a bachelor in performing arts at CPIT in Christchurch, then enrolled at the Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney.
Film was the main focus there and after getting used to having a camera poked in his face, Ashley grew to love it.
"You can be more internal, your emotions aren't as ‘large' as in theatre."
Ashley returned to Blenheim in March to decide which area of performing arts he wants to focus on.
Doing more film appeals, he would like to try directing, and he hopes to give playwriting a go.
Joining cast members for Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, the Blenheim Musical Theatre's 2012 theatre restaurant production seemed a good way of staying stage-ready.
To bring his character alive, Ashley is drawing on what he has learned in recent years about character development - and he might also be taking tips from his day job at a Blenheim bar.
Actually, there's not much comparison with Fairweathers and Saucy Jack's cabaret club, he laughs. But his workplace made it easy to supply a collection of empty liquor bottles to be filled as bar props on stage.
"And I've made some drinks, non-alcoholic ones, of course, for the cast members."
Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens continues at the Lakings Rd Theatre until November 24 (but not on Sunday or Monday nights). Tickets for dinner nights are $65 each, and dessert nights $45 each.
- The Marlborough Express