When the film “Sister Act” was released in 1992, it rapidly became a worldwide box-office hit and helped to cement Whoopi Goldberg’s position as one of the great comic film actors of her generation. Fast-forward fourteen years, and the story of nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier’s experiences of living in a convent under a witness-protection programme received a new lease of life when it was reborn as an all-singing, all-dancing musical experience.
Last week, the show landed at St Aidan’s School and raised the roof of Constance Green Hall in a superb production from Mrs Fran Bray and her team.
Arriving at the convent after witnessing a gangland hit by Curtis, her morally-dubious boyfriend, Deloris is forced to forego her sequins, big hair and dreams of dressing like Donna Summer to don a wimple and habit in a bid to go unnoticed. Unfortunately, she can’t resist the temptation to save the convent from the threat of closure by revitalising its ailing choir and bringing unexpected fame that puts her life in very real danger.
Deloris was beautifully played by the multi-talented Claudia Moore who was in almost every scene and wowed the crowd with her brash yet vulnerable portrayal of the singer-turned-nun; she demonstrated an equal ability in belting out disco stompers like “Take Me to Heaven”, leading the choir in the rousing gospel style of “Raise Your Voice” and showing real emotional range in the touching title number “Sister Act”. Equally, Phoebe Haley proved a fantastic foil as the formidable Mother Superior; her soaring vocals and fine gift for comedy made her a very endearing nun!
Moments of high comedy and slick dance moves from the boys left many members of the audience crying with laughter – Finton Flynn as the smooth but evil Curtis was supported by his bumbling henchmen TJ (Oscar Gray), Joey (George Dickson) and Pablo (Ben McNulty), treading a fine line between menace and incompetence!
Callum Bruce was perfectly cast as the unfortunately-nicknamed “Sweaty Eddie” and we were all rooting for him to get his girl in the end – so thank goodness that, after a tense final pursuit, a fairytale ending ensued!
Every member of the cast shone and the whole show was such a great ensemble effort that it feels unfair to single out individuals, but some particularly fine individual performances deserve a mention: Aimee Townend as the angelic-voiced postulant Mary Robert, Niamh Troy as the enthusiastic and endearing Mary Patrick and Kasey Quandt as the sarcastic, rapping Mary Lazarus.
The 14-piece band, under the direction of Mr Mark Pallant, were flawless and the choreography of Ms Susannah Miller was precise, energetic and joyful throughout. Not forgetting the backstage and technical crews, this show was a delight to watch from start to finish and every person involved should be very proud of a magnificent achievement.