Sister Act

Date 25th October 2019
Society Felling Stage Society
Venue Dryden Centre Low Fell Gateshead
Type of Production Musical
Director Enid Bilton-Gale
Musical Director Johnny Winter
Choreographer Katherine Willet

Report

Author: Foster Johnson

Everyone is perhaps now familiar with Sister Act whether it be the movie, or the stage musical of the same name. Its success for societies therefore is determined on not only how it does at the box office, but how  it is received by the audience. Well on the last score Felling Stage Society should have no worries as their production of this musical went down a storm with a packed audience.Overall it was an excellent evening’s entertainment which culminated in a standing ovation from the audience which left the cast in no doubt about what they thought of the show. There was a vibrancy and enthusiasm running throughout the production.  The orchestration and the quality of the singing and harmonies, particularly that of nuns was first class. This is an integral part of the plot line of the show and if this goes array it can create a problem. Well it did not and it was a treat!  This was in no small measure to the talents of Musical Director Jonny Winter and his excellent orchestra.

With a cast of 30 to marshal in what was limited stage facilities it was never going to be an easy task for the Director Enid Bilton-Gale but her vast experience and talent saw her do it to great success. In particular her staging of the big show stopper chorus numbers was done to great effect by bringing the cast into the audience and making them feel part of the show. To do so of course meant some sacrifices had to be made by way of sets and stage dressing but that did not detract from the show. It also helped to have the talents of Katherine Willett as the Dance Captain and her contribution to the final offering  cannot be overlooked.

As for the cast themselves one can never fault the effort they put into their various roles.  This was the first time I had seen a performance from Judy Mahoney and she suited the demanding role of Doloris Van Cartier to perfection. She was ebullient, enthusiastic, can sing and dance and put everything she had into it. Nearly every piece of stage action revolves around the character and to her great credit she delivered. Leon Gill is a powerful presence on stage with an abundance of talent both vocally and as a “mover” He used these once again to great effect in the role of Curtis the nefarious mobster of the piece. The multi-talented duo of Natalie Elleithy (Tina) and Jen Normandale (Michelle) were ideally cast as Deloris’s sidekicks and the harmonies in the numbers and movement were first class. Michael Skoyles  as Sweaty Eddie the Philadelphia Cop and Ann- Marie Clayton as the Mother Superior both made superb contributions to the show and their singing and acting were first class. Bruce Nicholson as the Monsignor , Stephen Halliday(Joey), Corey Clarke(TJ), Ian Nugent(Pablo) and Stephen Stokoe(Ernie) as the mobster of Curtis also played fine and important roles in the Show. Finally I turn to the Sisters and the Nun’s Chorus. What a delight they were to hear and see perform. Of these we had stand out performances from Emma Simpson (Sister Mary Patrick) Charlotte Black(Sister Mary Robert) and Marie Swan(Sister Mary Lazarus)

The ending to the Show entails two big chorus numbers “Spread the Love Around” and “Raise Your Voice” Well they certainly did and it was a fitting end to the evening. Or so we thought!!  Things changed when the curtains closed.  The complete cast came in front of the tabs and without lighting and with the house lights up delivered a magical interpretation of  “I Will Follow Him” This does not form part of the Show Score but the Society contacted the rights holders and subject to the caveat that it did not form part of the actual show and was performed in front of the curtain it could be done. For me it was well worth it.