Sister Act- The musical
was developed from the film of the same name starring Woopi Goldberg. It is is the story of Deloris Van Cartier a Reno lounge singer who, having witnessed her mobster boyfriend killing an employee, is hidden in a convent under a witness protection program. She soon makes friends with the nuns, especially Sister Mary Robert, Sister Mary Lazuras and Sister Mary Patrick. After the Mother Superior catches Deloris going out to a bar in the night, followed by Sister Robert and Sister Patrick, she is ordered to join the convent choir, only to discovered coaching the choir and turning it into a group of singin' and swingin' soul sisters! The choir proves to be a big success with the surrounding neighbourhood, but will Deloris' boyfriend track her down...
Musical Director :
Mary Parker/ Sarah Roberts
Performances - Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23th April, 2016
Review in The Fine Times Recorder by G P-W
SISTER Act, the musical show based on the Whoopi Goldberg film, depends on a STUPENDOUS central performance … and that’s what it gets from Natasha Green at Street. It’s a feel-good story, and even if you aren’t a fan of 70s disco soul and gospel, the G&SMCS company do it with such energy that their enjoyment seeps out into the auditorium. It seems almost churlish to point out that the sound balance on the opening night was dreadful. Microphones did not do their job and the band, especially the percussion, was often drowningly loud. The performers didn’t let it hold them back (perhaps, with luck, they didn’t know it was happening) and put on a show that was full of fun and movement, emphasised by rare moments of stillness and poignancy.
Choreographer Sarah Neale did a tremendous job with a very talented and uninhibited chorus – what fun to be able to do all those daft moves in public!
The story is of Deloris, an aspiring nightclub singer who sees her married lover shoot a member of his gang, and is scooped up by a policeman (and former school suitor) to hide in Witness Protection in a convent. There our heroine meets her nemesis in the form of the strict mother superior, in a beautifully judged but oddly English sounding performance by Karen Squance.
There’s Brian Epps Oirishly keeping his eye more firmly on the coffers than the alter, and Deloris taking the tuneless and lifeless convent choir and turning them into the Philly hit – even performing for the Holy Father.
Outstanding in the excellent and large cast are Paul Dyke as PC Eddie, Mark Wall as the sleazy gangster, Jess Michelmore as the postulant Sr Mary Robert and Charlie Wood as Sr Mary Patrick.
Of course there is a happy ending. The baddies get their come-uppance and our Deloris, by now known as Sr Mary Clarence, realises the advantages of loving a policeman and being part of a Sister Act. Natasha Green’s charisma and belting vocals make her denouement all the more touching, and she does it beautifully.
Once they get the sound balance sorted and a few other technical glitches sorted out, there will be no doubt this show is in the five-star bracket. It’s on until Saturday. See it if you can.
Review by Trudy Dyke, NODA Regional Representative District 8.
Deloris Van Cartier and her ‘All Singing All Dancing Sisters’ steal the show. Every nun gave 100%. Their tackling of gospel singing was effortless and there was no limit to their boundless energy as they cut shapes on the dance floor! Karen Squance was perfectly cast as Mother Superior commanding the stage; her style was natural and effortless and her interaction between Deloris and Monsignor O’Hara (Brian Epps) was a master class in acting.
Making her GLAS&STREET MCS debut was Natasha Green playing Deloris Van Cartier the wannabe nightclub singer who witnesses a murder and then finds herself under the protection of a bunch of nuns in a convent! This is a massive role, not just vocally but also physically. Deloris is deliciously brash and self obsessed but also with a hapless vulnerability! Natasha’s portrayal was completely believable and her performance was electric!
Playing Sister Mary Roberts was Jess Michelmore, her mouse-like character with a shy and apologetic manner was perfect - and she sang like an angel.
Paul Dyke found his inner geek as Sweaty Eddie, a gentle man but sad excuse for a cop who eventually mans up! His singing and disco dancing shone through with the down-and-outs in ‘I Could be that Guy’.
In complete contrast were Curtis (Mark Wall) steely eyed and ice cold, with his three hoods TJ, Joey and Pablo (Liam Frampton, Glynn Webster and Tristan Hann) who between them couldn’t harm a fly! Together they added to the comedy element of the production, in particular in their demonstration of how to woo a nun!
Fabulous performances from Sister Mary Patrick (Charlie Wood) whose enthusiasm in the dining hall was infectious, joyfully telling Deloris 'It’s good to be a Nun', and from Sister Mary Lazarus (Jo McCartney) the battleaxe who later bursts into a rap cutting shapes!
Sister Act had many highlights, most dominated by the nuns. The wardrobe for the entire show had been well selected and the colourful array of costumes complemented the production.
This production was fortunate to have the combined talents of a new team of creatives:- Choreographer Sarah Neale, Musical Director Kathryn Stevens and Matthew Maisey making his directorial debut. Congratulations to all who brought this dynamic first class production to the stage.
Letter from Nick Lawrence, NODA South West Regional Councillor
Many thanks for your kind invitation to see “Sister Act” last night. I received a “right royal welcome” from President Henry and during the interval from Ray & Maureen Wright. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, which of course is very much in my mind at present. Everyone gave such a lot of energy and commitment. Naturally the nuns stole the show with some excellent routines and charming harmony, but the fellas were not to be outdone with some marvellously entertaining characterisations. As usual at the Strode there was only teamwork on show including the hardworking back stage crew.
You were very fortunate in your principals. They gave their all in every facet of the production and kept us laughing from beginning to end of the wonderfully entertaining story.
Another highly enjoyable and energetic evening with Glastonbury & Street Musical Comedy Society. Many thanks and best wishes for the remainder of the week,
Review by Ken Edmonds in the Central Somerset Gazette
A holy enjoyable production.
DELORIS van Cartier is a club singer who has to go on the run from the mob and hide in a convent. That is the concept for this show which is based on the 1992 filmwhich starred Whoopie Goldberg. Natasha Green played Deloris with aplomb, she has a fantastic voice and really nailed all of her many numbers as well as having a great comic touch and being able to play the more dramatic moments too.
Mother Superior of the convent was brilliantly played by Karen Squance. Once again she showed her dexterity with comic timing, pathos and wonderful singing. Her I Haven’t \Got A Prayer was very moving and a lesson to anyone in how to sing with real emotion. Wonderful.
Playing the novice, Sister Mary Robert, was Jess Michelmore who once again showed us what a lovely voice she has in her solo The Life I never Had.
Making a devilishly delightful quartet of leading nuns were Charlie Wood, Charmaine Bray, Joe McCartney and Judi Neale as Sisters Mary Patrick, Mary Theresa, Mary Lazarus and Mary Martin of Tours. How the Mother Superior kept them in line before Deloris turned up is anyone’s guess but they certainly got plenty of mileage from their roles, creating lots of lovely comic moments.
Leader of the mob who was after Deloris, was Curtis, played in fine style by Mark Wall. He was aided and abetted by Liam Frampton as TJ, Glynn Webster as Joey and Tristan Hann as Pablo.
Paul Dyke as police officer Eddie was brilliant. He had a wonderful voice and the song in which he had his double quick-change, was really well done.
Brian Epps gave good support as Monsignor O’hara and there was a good early turn from Jess Stradling and Claire Switzer as Michelle and Tina.
The hired set all worked well and the costumes were fabulous. I particularly enjoyed the way the nuns’ outfits got more ridiculous as the evening went on.
A couple of nuns appeared with bright red lipstick which looked out of place, but I have heard since that this had disappeared later in the week. The choreography was well done with almost everyone spot on all the time.
While there were some stand-out performances, I think the thing that will stay with me the longest will be the nuns singing as a group. All of their numbers were good but I think Raise Your Voice was amazing. Musical Director Kathryn Stevens must have spent hours and hours working to get that sound and it was worth it.
There were a couple of glitches with mics and the band was a tad too loud for us to hear every word, which was a shame, but this was a show full of energy, entertainment and excellent singing and one that director Matthew Maisey should be proud of.
ROSE BOWL ADJUDICATION
ADJUDICATOR: Caroline Joy
Amateur theatre is enjoying a renaissance at present with a number of high profile musicals being released onto the amateur market, thus introducing a younger audience to the world of live musical theatre. A favourite being ‘Sister Act’, and Glastonbury and Street MCS had the opportunity to stage it for the first time as a group at the Strode Theatre. This was far from amateur in terms of production and performance which came from the cast, director, MD, Orchestra, and crew. G&SMCS have put everything into this production of ‘Sister Act’ with period appropriate sets that still enabled our focus to stay on the actors. Some of the sets and costumes sparkled more than any pantomime outfits one may see later this year. The set adapted with seamless versatility between numbers so the audience could appreciate the scenery (professionally sourced, and included impressive yet simple backdrops) without feeling overwhelmed. This included the Cathedral, Police Station, Bar and Eddie’s apartment which suited the stage. The set was brought to life with creative and sympathetic lighting design, courtesy of Chris Sealy, especially the streams of holy light in the gothic cathedral, gleaming through the stained glass windows, which made for a rather resplendent effect. The scene changes were swift and smooth throughout and lighting and sound cues appeared well prompted.
Director, Matthew Maisey, clearly worked hard on characterisation and vocal projection with his cast as the diction and clarity of words along with accents were very good which meant the story could be followed easily. Snappy direction made this a most enjoyable show. The dialogue and songs were well studied and motivated with fine accents, confident body language, mannerisms and movements. The chase scene was an inspired slapstick routine with some stage combat supported by good choreography which led us to the emotional climax of the show. Staging and stage business was well thought out with good use of entrances and exits, the only issue one had was with some of the blocking and proxemics.
There is a desire to be naturalistic when characters are in dialogue with each other and this means facing each other; however some facial expressions were lost due to too much time facing side on to the audience. Perhaps delivering the lines positioned more at an angle would allow the audience to feel more inclusive at these intimate times or when a character is listening they could turn out so we can see the internal reactions/emotions more. However on the whole, Matthew’s vision and obvious understanding of stage spectacle made this polished production a treat for the senses and he should be justly proud of ‘Sister Act.’ He has given the audiences a show to remember.
The orchestra under the baton of Kathryn Stevens (who has taken my breath away more than once when I have adjudicated performances with Kathryn as musical director) have to be congratulated. Kathryn led an excellent orchestra and sympathetically accompanied the singers throughout. The standard of singing was very high, especially considering the demanding score and a great deal of hard work and rehearsal must have gone in to making this so. Amateur productions often don’t produce such a crisp and clean faultless performance and they kept the pace going along nicely. They wouldn’t have been out of place in a main theatre orchestra pit. It was great to see the orchestra involved with the action, and get their moment in the spotlight, which included the pop up Pope!
Choreography from Sarah Neale was clever, tight, with well executed formations and showing off both talent and skill. The numbers were well rehearsed and everyone was clearly having a ball up there. The formations were very effective. TJ, Joey and Pablo’s routine will stick in my head for a long time! There was vibrancy and energy to the dance sequences, even with most of the cast in habits. This gave the routines wonderful upper body tableaux that looked impressive from the audience. There were plenty of funky moves from the Motown and disco era.
The costumes and make-up were just right for the era of 1977 Philadelphia and the closing glitter only added to the razzmatazz of the show which was highly enjoyable. These final sequences had the audience on their feet in full appreciation of what they had witnessed. It was a remarkable piece of planning by the wardrobe department, led by Di Gifford and Lynn Epps - well done, ladies, for making this production so colourful and 70s style.
Deloris Van Cartier (Natasha Green) shone as the sexy, earthy and mischievous wannabe diva. Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious as she strutted and shimmied and eventually coached the convent choir to new heights resulting in the Pope visiting their concert. Her performance was of a very high quality, with an impressive vocal range. Green is the whole package, she can sing, act and move with style. She was particularly strong in the upbeat gospel numbers but her rendition of the thoughtful, ‘Sister Act’ was technically first-rate. Here is a star of the future whose performance was like that of a seasoned veteran.
Karen Squance as the initially suspicious Mother Superior played the role of matriarch skilfully and her journey from rejection to acceptance of her guest was a joy to watch. An abundance of talent and experience was evident for all to see in the interpretation of Mother Superior. Karen’s rendition of, ‘I Haven’t Got A Prayer’ was outstanding and the right amount of gravitas was brought to the character, together with a dry sense of humour and good comic timing. Each word either spoken or sung was delivered with precision and clarity. She was a perfect balance to the brash Deloris, their scenes together showing the respect and affection that in time existed between them. Mother Superior’s interaction with Brian Epps as Monsignor O’Hara was also a joy, a great repartee.
As Monsignor O’Hara, Epps slowly transformed from the venerable Priest to a hip promoter. This was a well-rounded character with dignity, warmth, good comic timing and hilarious stage business when reacting to the various events that were enfolding around him.
(Sweaty) Eddie, the hapless cop played by Paul Dyke was one of the stars of the show. His clumsy approach to policing and complete lack of confidence faded away as the show progressed as his confidence grew along with his feelings towards Delores. Paul performed with wonderful sensitivity, wit and energy. His sublime voice was showcased beautifully when he delivered with deep and passionate yearning his performance of, ‘I Could Be That Guy’. This almost brought the house down (and his trousers!) complete with numerous costume changes.
A total of 21 nuns starred in this production with notable performances by Charlie Wood as the excitable Sister Mary Patrick - great characterisation from Charlie and sustained throughout, as did the grumpy Sister Mary Lazarus (Jo McCartney) who proved to be an excellent comedienne and transformed into cool rapper. Jess Michelmore was an impressive and convincing Sister Mary Robert, who grew throughout the show from a youthful coy postulant nun through to a confident woman who through Deloris learned how to use her voice in many ways. Her main song, ‘The Life I Never Led’, was beautifully sung and she sensationally belted out the high register. The chorus of Nuns deserve some real praise for their great singing, (which was full of strong and uplifting harmonies), movement and characterisations, especially Sister Mary Theresa (Charmaine Bray) and Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours (Judi Neale). The production also made use of the society’s male chorus to good effect. The versatile Chorus moved from playing nuns to shabby and desolate homeless people, then to chorus line style all accompanied by superb singing, and along with the contrasting characters of Michelle (Jess Stradling) and Tina (Claire Switzer), as Dolores backing singers breathed life on to the stage.
Mark Wall as the deep voiced, hirsute, power dressing, Curtis, the gangland boss was convincingly menacing in his pursuit of ex-girlfriend Deloris after she witnessed him killing another man. This menace was suitably emphasised in the number, ‘When I Find My Baby’.
TJ (Liam Frampton) was a few bullets short of a gun. Characterisation was suitably goofy and the seduction techniques displayed were priceless! Joey (Glynn Webster) had that 70’s porn look going on crossed with an Italian mobster. An oily character prone to rolling his pelvis was well portrayed. Pablo (Tristan Hann) was the suave chauvinist whose self-belief in his male sexual potency was hilarious.
Joey, Pablo and TJ softened the air of menace with pure comedic value, timing and slapstick with their ‘gangsta’ triumvirate, with sustained characterisation, body language and good strong voices. Good repartee with other characters was well established. Their musical numbers were superb. ‘Lady in The Long Black Dress’ actually had me in tears – I cannot remember the last time I laughed like that during a show.
This production was a glittering tribute to the eternal power of friendship, full of confidence and sass and with a 70’s pop style soundtrack, you couldn’t fail to come out of the theatre and rejoice with a big smile on your face – ‘Fabulous Baby’. Thank you so much for the wonderful hospitality, courtesy of Henry Tinney. Both I and my friend were very well looked after. I look forward to seeing you again in the future.