20th March 2015
Hessle Theatre Company
Hull New Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Tony Harris
Having seen this show previously I was fully prepared for, and eagerly anticipating, Hessle’s production and I was far from disappointed. This report could, therefore, be a short one – “Fabulous Baby!”.
However, not to say anything more would be a dereliction of my duty to you and the society because this production was quite superb and the show itself absolutely suited the talent and skills of their Director and Choreographer, Martin Beaumont.
The blending of the entire cast, suitably backed up by the MD, orchestra and crew, made for performances that were enthusiastically enjoyed in a large theatre by full houses, many of whom might not have realised that this was an amateur production.
Michelle Metcalfe played Deloris Van Cartier, the diva-ish night club singer, who witnesses a murder and, for her safety, is hidden by the police in a convent of all places. Here, she eventually helps the below-par Nun’s choir to improve their singing, but not without a few pitfalls along the way. Her performance was of a very high quality as she can really belt out a number, as well as act and move with style. She was particularly strong in the upbeat gospel numbers but her rendition of the thoughtful “Sister Act” was also excellent.
An abundance of talent and experience was evident for all to see in the interpretation of Mother Superior by Shirley Watts. She was totally suited to the role, her “I Haven’t Got A Prayer” was super, and she brought just the right amount of gravitas to the character, together with some splendid comic timing. She was a perfect balance to the brash Deloris, their scenes together showing the respect and affection that eventually existed between them.
Eddie, the policeman who befriends, and falls for, Deloris, was performed with wonderful sensitivity by Russell Fallon. I’ve mentioned his abilities before and here he was in outstanding form, his sublime voice really shining in “I Could Be That Guy”. It’s a shame that the part does not have more numbers.
Rachel Waters was an impressive and highly convincing Postulant, Sister Mary Robert, with her main song, “The Life I Never Led”, being beautifully sung.
The performances of the gangsters played by Luke Gillingham (TJ), Craig Elder (Joey) and James Galer (Pablo) brought the house down, especially in ”Lady In The Long Black Dress” and with a menacing Neal Edlin as Curtis in “When I Find My Baby”. John Ainsley was also very good as the Monsignor, giving it his all.
But this production was not just about the principals and the chorus of Nuns deserve some real praise for their great singing, movement and characterisations with Emma Burgess first rate as Sister Mary Patrick. The production also made use of the society’s male chorus to good effect in supporting Eddie in his big number and in the reprise of “Fabulous Baby!”.
The set was large and there was perhaps a bit of noise but, having said that, it filled the stage ideally.
Chris Maynard’s orchestra played strongly but at times it seemed to be too loud and maybe this should have been sorted out but, all in all, the staging and choreography of the show were really entertaining.
The costumes were just right for the era of 1977 Philadelphia and the closing glitter only added to the razzmatazz of the show which was highly enjoyable. These final sequences raised the roof and most of the audience were on their feet in full appreciation for what they had witnessed.
The society should, therefore, be very proud if it’s production. It was a credit to them, a credit to Hull, and a credit to NODA and the whole of amateur theatre.