THEY make for a convincing double act, all laughs, teasing and plenty of cross-talking.
The brother and sister quick-fire chat combination of Chris and Holly Comber underlines a close family unit and two singular stage talents.
Both are delighted to be on stage next month in a new production of the much-loved musical Carousel by Huddersfield Light Opera Company.
Holly, 28, is thrilled to be playing her first leading lady role for the company and couldn’t be more pleased that it’s a peach of a part – Julie Jordan in the Rodgers and Hammerstein favourite.
You suspect that’s she also quietly pleased that younger brother Chris, 23, is also in a principal role as Mr Snow. Don’t be fooled by the joking around, these two are seriously supportive of each other, nowhere more so than on stage.
“I always get Chris to help me by listening to my audition pieces. He’ll tell me honestly what he thinks,” said Holly.
“If it is a show that we are both interested in, we’ll get very excited about it.”
That passion for all things theatrical is shared by the wider Comber family. Mum Vivienne Payne and stepdad Malcolm Payne are both involved in shows and are very much part of the Marsden community where they now live.
The family is from Hove and moved to Yorkshire when Chris was about 10 and Holly, who now lives in Lockwood, finished a crucial year in school before joining them.
Holly and Chris’s interest in the stage was doubtless helped by the fact that mum Vivienne played leading roles in shows in Hove. And when the family moved north, what better way for the family to become involved in the community than through their interest in theatre.
“Shows are everything to me. We have the best group of friends ever,” said Holly.
“Everybody gets on and you can be yourself and you become someone else on stage.
“It feels so amazing to be on stage and to be performing for an audience.”
Holly, who works for the Energy Saving Trust in Huddersfield, started her stage career as a dancer.
“I did tap and ballet classes between the ages of three and 14 – but I didn’t want to do the exams,” said Holly. “It gave me a good grounding.
“When I was about 13, I thought I’d quite like to do more. I was singing with my mates from school and I suddenly thought this was quite good.”
Societies in the Huddersfield area clearly agreed as Holly has appeared with a number of them, working her way up to principal roles.
She played a classy So-Shy in the Light Opera panto alongside her boyfriend Dom Moccia as Abanzer.
He’ll be joining her again on stage at the LBT next month playing Jigger Craigin in Carousel.
For Chris, the path to big stage musicals was via a less usual route.
After an outing as a “junior gangster” in a school show he was recruited into appearing in adult shows.
“After that I had no intention of doing it again,” said Chris. “But then Peter Armitage asked me to do a show with the Avalanche Dodgers.”
“I was 13 and I’ve just done my 10th panto with them this year. When I went to the Dodgers for the first time, I was scared to death.
“When Peter asks you to do something, you don’t decline!
“It’s like a big bunch of mates. They’re a big sort of family.”
Working with Peter and with choreographer Doreen France gave Chris a taste for more stage work and he worked on his skills first in a BTec course in performing arts then a BTec National Diploma for which he got triple distinctions.
And that distinction carried on in a string of shows with the Dodgers, with Marsden and now with Huddersfield Light Opera Company.
“I work for Superdrug and do as much amateur stuff as possible,” he said.
“If someone offers you an opportunity then you give it a go. Being in shows helps your confidence and it helps you when you go to things like job interviews.”
Chris also gets a buzz from the social scene surrounding amateur theatre.
“I’ve got friends who don’t have anything to do with the stage and I’ve made lots of others in the musical crowd. It’s a brilliant social thing.”
And according to Chris, the stage can be a consolation and a distraction.
“If there are other things going on in your life, it’s a great place to let things go,” he said.
Holly and Chris haven’t often shared a stage in the same show but are delighted to have principal roles in Carousel.
So can the big sister act be a problem? “Chris was late for rehearsal in one show that we were doing,” said Holly.
“I was the one getting told off because he’s my little brother. I was on the phone saying ‘Where are you?’.”
As for the future, both are intent on pursuing their passion for the stage and particularly for musicals.
“I always make a big effort at auditions because there are so many good girl singers and actresses out there,” said Holly.
Watch out for her as Mary in Jesus Christ Superstar when she plays in a production for the Great Horton society this summer under the watchful eye of Huddersfield-based Michael Hellawell, another director to have sussed the Comber talent combination.
The Light Opera's Carousel runs April 26 to May 1 at the LBT. Box office is on 01484 430528.