|Date||3rd June 2016|
|Society||Campaign Amateur Theatre|
|Venue||The Maltings Ely|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Mark A J Chekley|
|Choreographer||Becky Green & Stephanie Hogger|
Author: Julie Petrucci
CATS’ production of Sister Act was guaranteed to Take Me To Heaven, from the curtain up. There is no overture here so we were straight in to one of the best songs of the show and yet it is only in the reprise, with the nuns ensemble at the end of Act One, that we really appreciate it.
The action moves from Deloris’ audition scene to her witnessing a murder, reporting it to the police and being hidden in the local cathedral. En route we meet Sweaty Eddy, the policeman with a crush on Deloris since schooldays and the caricature heavies, Curtis and his gang. We only get a hint of the fun to come from these guys before we meet Mother Superior and the full nuns chorus.
Fiona Barker as the Mother Superior, certainly lived up to her title. This was a quality performance enhanced by first-rate delivery of the throw-away line and an excellent voice. Peter Crussell as Monsignor O’Hara, brought a lightness of touch to this small role, making quite an impact. The lead nuns, of which there are several, were wonderfully cast providing variety and fun at the same time. Mandy Moorish shone as the enthusiastic, Sister Mary-Patrick; Vivien Aggett was highly amusing as Sister Mary Lazarus, while Amy Roberts as postulant Sister Mary Robert, combined innocence, curiosity and courage with a beautiful voice (especially in The Life I Never Led).
Great support came from all the Nuns especially Gerry Goodjohn as a somewhat mischievous Sister Mary Theresa. As an ensemble the nuns were a pleasure to listen to and watch; the choreography by Becky Green and Stephanie Hogger was fun and skilfully executed .
Eddie, Deloris’ latent love interest, was well played by Darren Mather. His characterisation was sympathetic without being too down-trodden and the costume trick during I Could Be That Guy was great. Adam Hebbard’s Curtis was suitably sinister, blending excellent vocals with surprisingly unpleasant lyrics with When I Find My Baby. Loved the “Four Tops” backing guys.
Curtis’s three sidekicks, Joey, Pablo and TJ (played by Adam Hutchings, Jake Newton and Jack Cutting respectively) were highly amusing during their brief dialogue scenes but really funny during the song and dance routine Lady in the Long Black Dress. Good voices too.
Finally, Deloris herself and the tour de force that was Lisa Brown who brought a huge personality and a great voice to this demanding role. This is a key role around which this whole show revolves and Ms Brown did not disappoint and can be summed up as Fab-u-lous Baby.
Finally a word on the technicals. The setting was used to good effect given it had to represent several different locations and the stage crew did a great job. With about seventeen scenes this was never going to be easy but in the main it was all done pretty slickly. The lighting design was excellent; furniture and props were great and costumes outstanding, especially in the finale. The radio mics caused one or two problems but nothing to mar one’s enjoyment.
Last but definitely by no means least, the orchestra under MD Mark A J Checkley was impressive as was the singing throughout.
Director Becky Green produced a very professional and highly enjoyable production which showed CATS at its very best and deserved its full houses and, I am sure, more than one standing ovation.