Sister Act


Sister Act

Review

Live and loud, full of action, hilariously funny but containing a surprising amount of pathos, the Interesting Theatre production of Sister Act is a triumph. The director Alan Pavis recruited  cast members from all over the region for this show. The lead  of Deloris Van Cartier is taken by Rugby schoolgirl, Leah Vassall. This is no mean task, as unusually for a musical, there was no big ensemble number to open the show, Deloris is thrown straight into a big song with excellent backing from Abbie Spencer as Michelle and Laura Bent as Tina. Leah has a strong and beautiful voice and this show exhibited it beautifully.

 

The Avon Valley Performing Arts College theatre is somewhat unusual in that the stage is at floor level and the audience sits in raked seats such that every seat has a superb view. The live band under the direction of Jon Watson was hidden on stage behind a curtain and only revealed at the finale.

 

Mother Superior is played by Kathy Evans and she carries off the part with panache. Apparently, in the film, (I have never seen it) "I will follow him" is a choir number, in this show Kathy sang it as a solo and it was beautiful. The three stooges of the villainous crook Curtis Jackson (Tim Spelt, Ben Mulley and Rajan Chokshi) were brilliant, some of their dancing was out of this world. In fact in a line that crops up a couple of times in the show ,"I have no words." The boys were well suited to their parts and delivered big style. It is a measure of how well that Ash Bright played the part of Curtis the gangster that he got booed (as well as applauded) at the walk down.

 

The nuns as a group were tremendous. Sisters Mary Patrick, Mary Lazarus and Mary Robert, respectively Catarina Mendes, Sue Avison and Daisy Jones were the most prominent and each performed delightfully and added a lot of humour to the proceedings. Dave Goodwin carried off the part of the oily Monsignor O'Hara. The unfortunate "Sweaty Eddie" (Ben Handforth) came through at the end and got the girl.

 

The girl in question is Deloris played by the phenomenal Leah Vassall. She commanded the stage. I have seen her play the leads in two other productions and she absolutely nailed them. This show was another. Her stage presence is exquisite, her voice has such quality that one wonders where she will go. Leah and three other members of the cast were all at one time members of the local singing group The Strawhouse Singers, based not half a mile from the theatre. It is significant the training that this choir gives allows them to be cast in a show of this quality.

The costumes were sometimes startling and the choreography was often inventive, both were a joy to see. Lighting and staging, given that there were no curtains between scenes were both innovative and efficient. Indeed the backstage crew obviously did a good job because we hardly noticed them. I think the audience took longer to take their seats than front of house imagined so the show was a few minutes late starting, but all was forgiven once it did.

My wife and I, along with the rest of the audience, who gave a standing ovation to the whole cast, loved the show and I am sure that many will return later in the year to see another Interesting Theatre production, "Evita"  This being the first night, there were a few notches, will no doubt have been eliminated by the time you read this.  It really is a super way to spend an evening, Sister Act continues this week until Saturday 24th March, there may be a few tickets left if you are quick, try their website. https://www.interestingtheatre.org/tickets.php  

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