A (very) public Neptune audition

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“Paging Ms. Darbus.”

A (very) public Neptune audition

Former Liverpool resident, Rosalee Peppard is hoping to answer a call, in the form of a contest by that name, for the antagonist’s role of Ms. Darbus in Neptune Theatre’s production of Disney’s High School Musical.

It’s the only major adult female role.

Emails are currently flying around Queens Co. urging residents to vote for Peppard, a musical talent who has continued to sing at “home” since leaving Liverpool Regional High School. She helped re-form the former high school group, Triple Trio, for example, and has performed at various festivals and benefits in addition to solo concerts at the Astor Theatre.

Peppard says, “What a blast it would be. To be on Neptune’s stage would be great. It’s crazy but it’s fun, it’s a learning curve and it’s very exciting.”

This contest, in partnership with the CBC, is not unlike the network’s “How to Solve A Problem Like Maria.” Peppard has earned a spot in the final 20, a number that is being reduced each week on CBC Radio One's Mainstreet.

The contest will culminate in a “live final showdown” involving four contestants on Feb. 18 at Neptune Theatre with the winner revealed live on Mainstreet on Feb. 20.

Peppard’s video of her singing “You Raise Me Up” will be posted online on Feb. 13 and audio clips will be played on the radio, both starting at about 4:45 p.m. that day.

On-line voting for Peppard’s contest, which includes five women, will take place from 6 p.m. Feb. 13 until Feb. 15 at midnight.

To vote, go to the CBC website, www.cbc.ca/ns/features/highschoolmusicalcontest/ and click on Peppard’s photograph. An audio interview can be heard as well. Peppard fans are urging residents to sign up to vote early.

Peppard says she is heartened by the support she is receiving from her friends. “One person is not one person. One person is an entire community. Although my name is Rosalee, I am made up of so many people; the support from friends is really wonderful. It’s very humbling and I’m thankful for everybody who is getting on board.”

She adds, ironically, the basic premise behind High School Musical is working together and “oneness. We’re taught to take sides but we truly are one and are all in this together. Even though it’s a light musical it has a very deep and pertinent message I believe.” She says the growing global environmental movement is an example.

Peppard has won numerous awards for singing, songwriting and her performances. Her current biography states: “Celebrating heroines and housewives, Rosalee writes in the traditional East Coast folk genre of her own heritage, singing both her brilliantly-crafted moving ballads, and stories with driving rhythms, to enchant, entertain, and educate audiences of all ages, with her true Celtic Soprano vocal palette while playing her classical guitar.”

Peppard remembers her first starring role in a musical, which was Lucy in the Liverpool Regional High School production ‘You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.’ “The artistic director was Ruth Ernst,” she says.

She attended Mount Allison University, where she performed in numerous plays while minoring in English Theatre, and then attended Banff School of Fine Arts, taking musical theatre, before heading to Toronto.

She performed continuously at numerous venues and for various groups. One highlight, however, she says, is working for Playwright Carol Bolt.

A friend then advised her to forget marriage for now, “so I found a Newfoundlander and got married right away,” she says with a laugh.

She enjoyed a lot of community theatre at that point and, in the early 1990s, won Ontario’s prestigious Best Musical Actress Award. Coincidentally, it was for her performance as Maria in the Sound of Music.

She started writing and starring in Musical Reviews with partners and as a solo artist. She toured Southern Ontario and other areas. Her Review of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Some Enchanted Evening also garnered acclaim and sold out crowds.

In the meantime, she and her husband, Allan had two children and she ran the office of an elevator company.

Paul Mills of Stan Rogers fame produced two CDs, which won her two prestigious Dr. Helen Creighton Research Awards. These came out of researching Maritime heritage and interviewing senior Maritime women. She has performed the resulting songs she wrote throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario in sometimes-elaborate theatrical costumes.

In 2006, they moved “home” and bought a large house in “beautiful Prospect Village,” she says. They turned it into Prospect Village Bed & Breakfast.

Her passion for music, whether performed at Neptune or for a small room full of guests, is obvious at this point. “I give concerts every night during the summer,” she says.

Organizations: Neptune Theatre, High School Musical, CBC Radio Liverpool Regional High School Queens Co. Astor Theatre Mount Allison University English Theatre Banff School of Fine Arts Prospect Village Bed & Breakfast

Geographic location: Liverpool, Ontario, East Coast Toronto Southern Ontario Nova Scotia New Brunswick Beautiful Prospect Village

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