Brian Beacom

REBECCA Lumsden and James Lowrie have all the calm of a summer day about them.

But the reality is a little storm, at least, should be blowing up in their heads.

The pair are the stars of a new theatre show, Butterfly Kiss which cleverly weaves together two of playwright/musician Dave Anderson’s autobiographical stories.

Set in 1960, Dave’s tale tells of first love and first realisation of a love for Elvis music.

Rebecca and James have to appear – and convince – as the young lovers who meet back in the West of Scotland at Fair Fortnight.

Yet, they also play brother and sister at one point. It’s a demanding task, given neither has ever appeared in a professional musical theatre production before.

“Yes, it is,” says James, “but we’ve been able to help each other out a lot.

“I had a hard time getting to grips with the script at first but I was able to share that with Rebecca.”

The production, which is now running nights at Glasgow’s Oran Mor theatre, places a great deal on very young shoulders.

James, who grew up in Cumbernauld is just 17 and has recently complete a four year course at the Dance School of Scotland.

He is set to go to London to stage school this autumn.

His on-stage girlfriend Rebecca is also going through something of a baptism of fire.

Rebecca, from Bathgate, graduated from the Conservatoire just under a year ago and has worked in Dundee Rep.

She has appeared on stage as the First Minister in play Spoiling and as George in Christmas show George’s Marvellous Medicine.

But she has never appeared in a musical theatre show.

“I did musical theatre when I was younger, but only as an amateur,” she offers.

“This piece is also very challenging in that most of it is sung out.”

James is trained in musical theatre. Yet this show is hardly simple, standard fare.

“What I found is difficult is that most of it is performed in a Scottish accent, except for some of the big American songs.

“So you are using your voice in a very different way. Plus, coming in from a dance school to a professional environment has been really scary. You are treated as a professional and you have to throw yourself into all its challenges.

“But that said, it’s been an amazing experience.”

The talented youngsters are also musicians. Rebecca plays the flute while James plays the oboe.

“We’ve been able to find our way through the experience together,” says Rebecca, “but we’ve also had help from Christina (Strachan, who plays the young boy’s mum) to get us from one style of song to another, which can be really hard.”

Dave Anderson’s story opens with the visit of an “old guy” who visits a seaside Museum on his bus pass, where he finds a Punch and Judy stall.

When no-one is looking, he peeks in, and finds himself in the year 1960. He’s now 15 years old, and holidaying on the coast of the West of Scotland.

It’s a world of rock’n’roll, teenagers, burgeoning consumerism, rampant hormones and lazy daytimes gazing into rock pools.

It’s a time of a love of all things American, and of course a girl.

The centre of his holiday universe is the jukebox in Cafe Greco.

Slow-sipping a cherryade, he drinks in the sounds of his idols – rock’n’roll renegades, like he wishes he was, as he grooves and moves to Elvis’s rebel yell.

Then the King flips over into his version of O Sole Mio, and his mind is blown.

James admits he has been discovering Elvis for the first time. “I had to do some serious research,” he admits, grinning. “I didn’t know much about him at all.

“It was only yesterday I managed to get a grab of Elvis when my character performs him at the Café Greco.

“It’s been great to learn the movements and style.”

Rebecca was however aware of early rock n’roll

“My mum was obsessed with Elvis so I was familiar with the songs,” she says.

What both Rebecca and James bring to the roles is a desperate desire to make it as performers.

Rebecca knew she was destined for a career in showbiz from an early age and attended local musical theatre classes.

“I was always singing and dancing at school. And my teacher says I wanted to teach the class.

“I never wanted to do anything else, except for a wee while as a girl I wanted to work the till in a shop.”

That dream came true. “After school I have actually worked the till in a shop,” she says, with a wry smile. “But I hated every minute of it.”

James was captivated by theatre since he saw his first puppet show as a schoolboy. Over the years he attended a range of theatre schools before settling at Dance School in Knightswood.

Aged13 he found boarded in Glasgow.

“Suddenly I realised my hobby was now a permanent reality and I was working alongside the best of talent. It has been really demanding but that’s been great. And now I’m set to go to London.”

He adds; “I’m nervous, but it’s what I really want to do.

Meantime, James has also been behind a till. “I work in Iceland to help pay the way,” he says.

In order to play teenagers in love the young couple have to create immediate on-stage chemistry.

Has it been tough?

“Not so tough,” says James, grinning. “We’ve had a sleepover recently, so we’ve become quite close.”

*Butterfly Kiss, Oran Mor, August 26, 30 and 31 at 7pm.