Sister Act

Date 25th September 2019
Society Portrush Music Society
Venue Riverside Theatre, Coleraine
Type of Production Musical
Director Kerry Kane
Musical Director Terry Cloughley
Choreographer Rosemary O’Connor


Author: Sheelagh Hobart

Based on the 1992 film of the same name, Sister Act premiered in the West End in June 2009 and on Broadway
in April 2011. It has played all over the world and been translated into 8 languages! Professional leads have been
stars such as Whoopi Goldberg and Alexandra Burke but works equally well with a white Doloris van Cartier.
Performing this musical again after only 5 years, PMS know when they are onto a good thing! With “House Full”
notices up every night, this joyous show seems to bring out the best in every company that takes it on and the
public know that. Quite a few of the principal roles were reprised by their previous actors but I saw a good
number of new faces.

Thankfully Elaine Macauley was able to repeat the leading part of Doloris Van Cartier, which, with some
directorial tweaks, she performed impeccably. With impressive vocals, she gave a most believable interpretation
and had an excellent rapport with all fellow performers. Opening with Elaine, as backing singers for her night
club audition, were Shauna Cloughley as Michele, Clare Campbell as Tina and Emma Fegan as Kelly who all gave
a lively start to the show. Curtis Jackson (Harry Coates) and his merry band of crooks – Joey (Aiden Hughes), TJ
(Tim Brown) and Pablo (Alan Morton) introduced themselves and carried on with individual characterisations –
except Ernie (Andy Lynn) who didn’t have time to develop his before being shot!! Aiden, Tim and Alan all
showed singing, dancing and great comedic skills with “Lady in the Long Black Dress” really tickling the
audience’s funny bones! Harry reprised his role as Curtis with plenty of menace.

Alan McClarty took on the role of Eddie Souther with relish, and teased all possible comedy out of it. With brow
mopping, he reminded us regularly why his uncomfortable nick name was ‘Sweaty Eddie’, and his “I could be
that Guy” was a triumph! Fiona Flynn exuded calm confidence as Mother Superior. Mainly a strict disciplinarian,
the script gives lovely little undertones of humour and Fiona marked them all with gentle subtlety. It was lovely
to witness her developing relationship with the loud mouthed Doloris and the gathering respect each had for
the other. The Nun’s chorus harmonised beautifully with named Sisters each developing their individual
characters such as Sister Mary Theresa (Christine Stringer), the oldest nun in the convent who packed a
surprising punch(!) and Sister Mary Martin of Tours (Addis Blair) – who was in her slightly dotty ‘own little
world’. As Sister Mary Lazarus Sandra McElhinney, featuring the expected gravel voice and showing how a nun
can rap, gave an animated performance! Rosemary O’Connor combined her job as choreographer with the role
of Sister Mary Patrick. She showed the child-like “joy of being a nun” and was in very good voice for her solo
lines. New to the society was Megan Paul as the young postulant Sister Mary Robert. I thought Megan must be
about 18 years old, so convincing was her portrayal. It was lovely to see her character develop from a shy and
quiet girl brought up in the convent to a confident and opinionated young woman. She sang in “Raise Your
Voice” with vigour and the contemplative “The Life I Never Led” beautifully. Monsignor O’Hara is a difficult role
with which to make an impact. Harry Stinson played it steady – gradually being drawn into the rhythm of the
nuns’ new music and enjoying it! Robert Blair divided himself amongst several parts – cop, taxi driver, bar patron
in drag -- he will not be allowed to forget the latter in a hurry!! Members of the Ensemble and Nuns’ chorus
sometimes appeared in other minor roles including as Fantasy dancers – every role adding more colour to the
overall tapestry.

PMS’s set this time was beautifully simple. The orchestra was placed on an upper level at the back of the stage
fronted by a “stone” balustrade, underneath which was a black curtain providing entrance/exit point and a
lovely high ‘stained glass’ window at either side. Trucks with double sided church windows /tinsel ribbon slash
and police office/kitchen were well used and props (including confessional booths) and church furniture were
speedily and efficiently moved by the stage team, helping the whole show move apace. Sound was well
balanced and Lighting made good use of area specials. Costumes supplied by Utopia and the large wardrobe
team were all authentic, with nuns’ habits becoming more glittery as the show progressed.

MD Terry Cloughley’s 11 piece orchestra was well controlled and balanced with the stage. His musicians
communicated Menkin’s original 70s style music – switching tempo and mood from soul to funk, from motown
to disco - extremely well. Choreography by Ditanya from PMS’s previous production of Sister Act was
retaught and revised by Rosemary O’Connor and was well rehearsed and precise. Director Kerry Kane took her
best bits from her 2014 version, inserted some new ideas, and presented an excellent and very professional feel-
good musical. The Finale of “Raise Your Voice!” and “Take Me to Heaven!” brought the audience to their feet
and they left the theatre with huge smiles on all faces!
James and I had a joyful evening’s entertainment and our thanks goes to everyone who made it thus.

Sheelagh Hobart
Noda Regional Representative for Ireland