Sister Act

Date 27th July 2019
Society Orrell Musical & Dramatic Society
Venue St. Peters Catholic High School, Howards Lane, Orrell
Type of Production Musical
Musical Director Linda Scott
Choreographer Alison Hampson
Producer Diane Jones

Report

Author: Jim Briscoe

Sister Act is based on Whoopi Goldberg’s 1992 smash hit movie of the same name. The show tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a gangland murder. Whilst under police protective custody, she is hidden in the one place that she won’t be found - a convent!   Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and an uptight Mother Superior. The convent and its church are facing financial difficulties, but using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the convent choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community, but in doing so, she ‘blows her cover’.  Soon, the gangsters are giving chase, only to find themselves up against Deloris and the unique power of her newfound friendship and sisterhood.

This was my first visit to see Orrell Musical and Dramatic Society in action and I hope it won’t be my last! St. Peters Catholic High School was a new venue for OMADS, a new venue packed to the rafters the night I attended!  If you have seen the film, the story line is a familiar one, but the music isn’t! No sign of ‘Hail Holy Queen’, ‘My Guy’ and ‘I Will Follow Him’, instead a great score, with songs that carry the show. So, when the orchestra ‘struck up’ the first number and ‘Deloris’ entered with her backing singers and ‘Take Me to Heaven’ filled the studio...you just knew, it was time to sit back and wait to be entertained.... and entertained we were!

With such a large cast that includes sixteen named characters, it really is difficult to highlight some without doing injustice to others, but, having said that, I do feel that I need to highlight the following….

Victoria Fairhurst looked totally comfortable as our lead ‘Deloris Van Cartier’. She took us on a journey from the ‘sassy’, ‘spirited’, ‘scared’ ‘crazy Deloris’ who we first meet to the ‘caring’ ‘softer’ ‘emotional’ ‘Deloris’ we see later. Great voice, great stage presence, comedic timing aplenty, Victoria made this part her own (although I did see a bit of ‘Whoopi’ in there). ‘Fabulous Baby’ and its reprise and ‘Bless Our Show’ were highlights for me....be proud!

Diane Jones was the ‘perfect fit’ for the role of Mother Superior! Continuously questioning God as to why things were happening – she was the perfect foil for Deloris. Great diction, great stage presence, her characterisation throughout was inspiring. Good singing voice ...just a lovely performance – well done!

The convent certainly had a fair number of nuns, but this was never off putting and never looked like too many. There was some great individual characterisation especially...’Sister Mary Patrick’, the consistently perky, enthusiastic, and easily excitable nun; ‘Sister Mary Roberts’ the young, shy postulant and the boisterous friendly one ‘Sister Mary Lazarus’ played by Alison Hampson, Natalie Jones and Louise Taylor respectively.  All three had great stage presence and great comedic timing which was evident throughout!  Natalie’s rendition of ‘The Life I Never Led’ was fabulous, poignant... a ‘showstopper’ for me. Be proud ladies, be proud!  Making up the ‘convent family’ was ‘Monsignor O’Hara’ played by the believable Andrew Southern.  Andrew’s interpretation was ‘spot on’ – great diction and accent, great comic timing, great characterisation...well done!

The ‘Bad Guys’ ‘Curtis Jackson’ the ‘murdering villain’ was played by Stephen Carletti; a man you really wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Then we had ‘Pablo’, ‘TJ’ and ‘Joey’ ‘Curtis’s sidekicks’ played by Paul McMonagle, Zack Thornley and Steven Ascroft respectively.  (Under a bit of pressure here as I was sat very close to ‘Emily’ – Steven Ascoft’s young daughter – promised I’d only say nice things about her dad).  No need to worry Emily, dad and the guys gave us four great characterisations.  Individually good, together great; their two songs ‘When I find my Baby’ and ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ were highlights for me... especially when you include those well delivered ‘dance moves’ -  well done guys! 

‘Eddie Souther - Sweaty Eddie’ as he became better known was played by David Jones who gave us a solid performance as our ‘not so clever cop’. ‘Eddie and Deloris’ where at school together, ’Eddie’ having a ‘major crush’ on ‘Deloris’ back in the day, a crush that was set to ‘re-ignite’!  There were other small cameo roles: Ray Sims played multiple rolls; a Cop ‘Sweaty Eddie’s side kick’, The Pope, a Bar Man, and a Taxi Driver. Natasha Dunne and Joanne Sweet played Deloris backup singers, ‘Tina’ and ‘Michelle’ respectively.  Mildred Sims played Sister Mary Theresa and Paul Regan played Ernie/Newscaster.

The ensemble supported the principal cast very well and it was obvious from the very start that everyone on stage ‘loved’ being part of this show! Everyone acted, sang and danced their hearts out, they had obviously worked hard, thought about their characters and were so enthusiastic…well done!

Diane Jones not only played the role of ‘Mother Superior’ but also ‘Produced’ the show which was well cast and well directed - congratulations Diane on a job well done! Musical Director Linda Scott and her band also did a fabulous job, the music and vocals had a real authentic feel and enhanced the production so much. Congratulations also to Alison Hampson (Choreographer) – the choreography for the show was cleverly devised and played to the cast’s strength, again adding so much to this great production.

With some of the highest temperatures recorded in this country that week, what it must have been like for the actors I don’t know, especially the nun’s in those robes!  But - what about the ‘workers’ – the ‘stage crew’! Congratulations to Andrew Clayton (Stage Manager)  for not only constructing the set which was minimal but effective and made best use of the space available, but to Andrew and his crew for the efficient manner in which they ‘pushed and pulled’ that set around especially in that heat....no need for ‘Slimmer’s World’ here I would suggest -  well done folks……

Lighting and Sound were great – congrats to Dale Wilson and Lloyd Pennington.  Costumes were excellent and in keeping with the era as were the props ... congrats to Elaine Eccles and Natasha Dunne; Wendy Forshaw and members respectively.

That just leaves me to say, thank you so much for inviting my wife and I, we really did enjoy the show and hope to see you all again soon.