Rachel’s journey to the stage

Sacred Heart College, Napier, Year 13 student, Rachel Doohan, has just landed the part of Victoria the white kitten in the local operatic society’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. Here she talks about her journey to this point.

Rachel's journey to the stage Archdiocese of Wellington

My life revolves around dancing, school, my Catholic faith and at the present, Cats. I have been dancing for 14 years and still love it. I began learning with Heather ballet, tap, modern/jazz, lyrical and acro. I danced 29 British Theatre and Dance Academy (BTDA) examinations with 21 Distinctions during my time with Heather and in 2003 won a scholarship to the BTDA summer school in Leicester, England.

Two years ago I switched dance studios and am now doing ballet and contemporary dance with Bronwyn Stiles at Dancestiles in Havelock North. I am due to dance my Royal Academy of Dance Grade 8 award this month as well as my RAD Advanced Foundation examination next month. Last year I topped my dance studio with a distinction of 92 percent in my Grade 7 exam.

I also do voice tuition at school with Francis Birch and I play the cello and piano. I very much enjoy singing as a cantor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Havelock North.

In May, I fell in love with Cats and decided to audition for the Napier Operatic Society’s production in October. We had to learn a song and prepare a 16-count dance to a piece from the musical. I was so scared that I’d forget my words or fall off the stage or something, and that the producers would not like me. So I prayed, I always pray when I’m nervous; God helps me through whatever I have to do. It’s such a relief to know that God is with me. I have faith in God and God helps me to have faith in myself.

The people auditioning me told me then and there that they wanted me for the role of Victoria, the white kitten. So I left the audition with a bounce in my step and a huge smile. I smiled for days after.

The cast for CATS are so talented. It’s such an honour to be able to work with such awesome and kind people. We rehearse on Tuesdays and Thursdays – 7pm – 10pm and Sundays, 1pm – 9pm. Practices are long and I dance Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday as well. But it is definitely worth every minute! CATS is showing at the Napier Municipal Theatre from 5 to 20 October. Tickets are on sale now.

Apart from wanting to run away with Cirque du Soleil, I’d like to be a ballet teacher, and I hope to pass on my faith and passion for performing, and to teach others about their spiritual wellbeing, to change the world and to be famous.

I am proud to be a Catholic and I value my Catholic education – it has given me an understanding of life and I feel that it has enabled me to respect others and myself, as we learn how to live life as Jesus would. I believe that God gave us all talents; it is our job to use them for the good of others.

Ordinary people have the power to do extraordinary things, we only need to believe in and trust in God. Grab every opportunity that comes your way. Listen to others, they may inspire you. Take criticism and use it as a challenge to make yourself a better person. Never say never; all you have to do is believe in yourself, strive for excellence and follow your heart.