Sister Act

Date 19th March 2016
Society Alnwick Stage Musical Society
Venue The Playhouse, Alnwick
Type of Production Musical
Director Michael Pearson
Musical Director Peter Brown
Choreographer Georgia Robinson

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Author: Kathryn Curry

Sister Act is a superb musical comedy and with the wealth of vocal talent in this society there was no doubt this show was going to be an audience winner before rehearsals even started and we were not disappointed. Peter Brown ‘Musical Maestro’ always gives us an ensemble that raises the whole game of amateur musical theatre and this year he really excelled with his loyal band of musicians, leaving us wanting more of the standard of live music they generate. ‘Sister Act’ band you were a joy to listen to and you rose to the energy and enthusiasm of your talented M.D.

This hilarious musical story demands huge vocal range and the principal parts were very well cast indeed. As well as this, the characters had to develop their individual personalities and the whole cast did this admirably showing their long years of experience in musical theatre from chorus to principals. As the story developed and the characters were introduced, the story of the wannabe diva ‘Deloris Van Cartier’ left us in no doubt that this society are capable of rising successfully to the challenge of putting on newly released shows as well as old favourites.

‘Deloris Van Cartier’ (Leonie Dial) is a dream part and Leonie was certainly the person to play this part. She was superb. Her vocal range, comic timing and acting was second to none, she excelled and could have graced any ‘West End’ stage…. an inspired performance!  ‘Mother Superior’ (Mariana Santiago-Bennett) played her role with all the pathos and humour required and her rendition of ‘Here Within These Walls’ was just delightful. Character actress Lynne Lambert secured the plum role of ‘Sister Mary Lazarus’ and with her experience, beautiful voice and attention to detail in researching any part she takes on, ensured this was a brilliant performance reflecting the perfectionist she is in getting the character just right.  New comer Darren Lewis was cast as ‘Eddie’ what a revelation he was. He played the part to perfection showcasing his talents in both singing and acting. Having seen the show many times, for me, Darren is without a doubt the best ‘Eddie’ I have seen.  Anthony Stoker playing ‘Monsignor O’Hara’ showed us what a versatile actor he is and as ever gave a stalwart performance from the reserved man of cloth to becoming the charismatic excited cleric, making us laugh so much, I was slightly disappointed he was not brought to front amongst the movers and groovers in the finale instead of being hidden at the back, as this character generates so much fun for the audience. ‘Curtis’ (Phil Gregory) was extremely well cast,  Phil always plays the part of the ‘baddie’ extremely well and this was no exception and with his back up team of ‘TJ’ (Harry Brierley), ‘Joey’ (Peter Biggers) and ‘Pablo’ (Hannah Watson) all blundering around we were treated to lots of laughs by this well-choreographed quartet. There were so many good performances ‘Sister Mary Robert’ (Meg Fletcher/Ellie Hamblett), ‘Sister Mary Patrick’ (Sally Black) and ‘Sister Mary Theresa’ (Arelene Cadman) who gave us her own lovely portrayal of the old nun and Arelene as ever gave it her touch of sparkle.

There are too many named parts in this show to give mention to but suffice to say all gave fine performances in supporting the principal roles and making this a slick and highly entertaining show. This is a very wordy show to learn especially for the chorus but the singing and harmonies shone through and they were well rehearsed and a hilarious backing to the main principals. In particular Teresa M Quilter and Margaret Reece showed what good chorus members they are as their facial expressions at times were just hilarious as the plot unfolded.

In the modern style the set was minimalistic and very effective, though for me the convent scene a little overpowering and from where I sat it was always in my sight line and could have probably been very easily masked. I also thought at times thought the various scenes could have done with a little more dressing. However mostly the sets worked well with the good lighting plot and scenes were slick and effortless.  One small comment….not meant to be negative, but it was slightly disappointing not to see the change and transformation of the nuns habits on stage as this is so easily done and it is a dynamic costume change and an integral part of the humour of the show and always leaves the audience in hysterics and amazement, so changing off stage lost some of the surprise.

This was overall a superb production, showing what an immense range of talented performers this society has. A great evenings entertainment enjoyed by everyone. Congratulations to performers, crew, band and production team.