"Sister Act is an extremely funny and heart-warming show with some brilliant toe-tapping musical numbers. You'll want to jump up in the aisles and dance and clap along, the joy is infectious!
The show tells the story of lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier who, after witnessing her mobster boyfriend committing a murder, is forced to relocate to a Convent under the guise of a Nun for her own protection. Once installed in the convent, Deloris proceeds to upend the quiet lives of the resident sisters. In an effort to keep her out of trouble, the Nuns assign Deloris to direct the convent's choir, an ensemble that she soon turns into a vibrant and soulful act that gains widespread attention, and some unexpected but firm friendships are created along the way.
Sister Act The Musical is based on the 1992 film of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg, and the musical version came to London's West End in 2009 starring Patina Miller and Sheila Hancock. “
We are delighted that Clare Lager, a former member of WAOS and now mayor of Witham, took the trouble to thank the cast and crew of Sister Act for their efforts. Not only did she send a card but she even came to the dressing room at the end of the show to say how much she and her husband had thoroughly enjoyed it. As she says in her card Sister Act was one of the best shows she had ever seen, including professional. Praise indeed!”
SISTER Act was originally a showcase for the talents of Whoopi Goldberg, but even she would surely have been won over by Corrina Wilson’s stunning performance in Witham Amateur Operatic Society’s version.
Wilson’s controlled operatic voice has been to the fore on her previous appearances, but here was an earthy, gutsy take on the role, more Tina Turner than Kiri Te Kanawa. She inhabited the role of Dolores totally in a forceful, vibrant display of vocal gymnastics and was well supported by a lively cast who entered into the spirit of an effervescent production, superbly choreographed by Robyn Gowers.
Diana Easton as the Mother Superior and Francis Garland, as the cop Eddie are almost the antithesis of Dolores - sedate, controlled and put-upon - but shine when given their moments in the spotlight. Garland in particular, in his ﬁrst role for the society, unfolded a beautiful smooth singing voice that should be heard more. Aimee Hart impresses as the naive postulant who blossoms as the evening develops, while Emma Loring and Rhianna Howard - bustle and sparkle as two of the livelier nuns.
In a production inevitably dominated by nuns, there are still a few moments when men can take centre stage. David Slater is suitably villainous as the murderous Curtis while his henchmen Philip Spurgeon, William Hackett and Ryan Wuyts make the most of a slick comedy routine.
In these difficult times it so good to be able to go and see such an uplifting show as Sister Act. Witham Amateur Operatic Society (WAOS) gave us such a wonderful show, which on the night I was there, was an almost full house. I understand that the other nights are the same.
I had been lucky enough to be invited to their preliminary open evening when the show was at a great stage. The director, Robyn Gowers was about to have a very serious back operation and wanted it blocked and staged before she left. With the help of assistant director Gemma Gray, this show was really great fun and a joyous musical to come and watch.
Sister Act the musical, is based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film comedy of the same name, it tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, an aspiring disco diva in the 1970’s. After witnessing her gangster boyfriend, Curtis, commit a murder, she is put in protective custody in a convent which is facing closure. Finding this new ‘lifestyle’ difficult, she eventually gets involved with the convent choir finding friendships and sisterhood that she has never known before.
Deloris Van Cartier (Corrina Wilson) is the mainstay of the show and is on stage almost the entire time. Corrina, as usual gave a first class performance; she gave us attitude and heart at every opportunity while both her singing and her acting skills were excellent. The energy and stamina she produced on stage was phenomenal, she was an utter delight. She deserved the standing ovation at the end of the show with all the cast. Corrina you were ‘Fabulous Baby;!!
Diana Easton, as the Mother Superior had a beautiful voice, she portrayed a strong woman who was unaccustomed to showing her emotions but had a mind of her own. She gave us a captivating performance with her songs “Here Within These Walls” and “I Haven’t got a Prayer” - a perfect Mother Superior.
Francis Garland as ‘Sweaty Eddie’, was the cop who saved Deloris and his performance was very appealing, if a little quiet sometimes on stage. His song ‘’I could be that guy’ was beautifully sung and his ‘Travolta’ costume came off without a hitch. I see he had to lose his beard for his character and I have to say he looked very handsome on stage.
David Slater played Curtis the shady villain, surrounded by his hoodlums Phillip Spurgeon (Joey), William Hackett (TJ), and Ryan Wuyts (Pablo). His solo ‘‘When I find my baby’ was great. All four provided the comedy and funniest of lines; one of the most hilarious, show stopping moments of the show was the song ‘The Lady in the Long Black Dress’
Stewart Adkins as Monsignor O’Hara was simply fantastic as the Irish priest and looked like he was really enjoying himself on stage. His excitement on reading the reviews was hilarious and I would have loved to have seen him do more on stage as he really does have stage presence and great acting ability.
The Sisters were all excellent. Emma Loring as Sister Mary Patrick gave us a bubbly fun loving nun in contrast to the grumpy, rapping Sister Mary Lazarus (Rhianna Howard). Both of them were a delight to watch. Young Mary Robert (Aimee Hart) had a superb voice for such a little lady and her song ‘The life I never lead’ was beautiful. I have seen her recently in a musical show at Latchingdon and am very impressed with her vocal range.
The nuns all sung well, providing us with uplifting numbers with good harmonies and choreography. There were fantastic colourful glitzy costumes, which really did add to the simple set and lighting design. Quick set changes from the backstage crew kept the flow of the show and the direction by Robyn and her team was excellent.
Musical Director, Emma Nash made sure that her orchestra did not overpower the singing on stage and gave us an excellent musical sound. It is very clear, watching this show, just how much rehearsal and hard work had gone into making this show such a joy to watch.
Huge congratulations to all the cast and crew. I don’t think there are many tickets left but if there are grab one as this is a real feel good show and one not to be missed.
Guest Reviewer: Christine Davidson
Sister Act, book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater
Director and Choreographer Robyn Gowers
Musical Director Emma Nash
Assistant Director Gemma Gray
Performed at The Public Hall, Witham on Thursday 24th October.
I was warmly welcomed on arrival by Paul Goddard, Production Manager. The seats reserved for us in this large hall with a good stage area afforded an uninterrupted view of the stage.
The action of the musical takes place in America as Act One opened with a lively and energetic scene in the casino, featuring Deloris (Corinna Wilson ),Tina (Hatty Gribben) and Michelle (Katie Galley) singing Take Me To Heaven. This set the tone of the production which moved along at a cracking pace throughout. Corinna played the major role in this musical and was hugely impressive, carrying out this role with great enthusiasm and obvious skill, both in acting, singing and general stage movement. After Deloris witnessed a murder, she is placed in protective custody, in a convent, disguised as a nun and to be known as Sister Mary Clarence. Following a tuneless performance by the choir, Deloris takes over as Director of the choir and, against the wishes of Mother Superior (Diana Easton) coaches them in gospel and rock style singing. Diana was delightful as Mother Superior, with very telling facial expressions and a strong singing voice eg Here Within These Walls.
Francis Garland played the rather hapless Eddie, the local police Lieutenant and did really well in this, his on stage debut! Curtis, the villain of the piece, was played by David Slater who injected a 'gangster' element, ably assisted by his stooges, Joey (Philip Spurgeon), TJ (William Hackett) and Pablo (Ryan Wuyts).
Stewart Adkins played Monsignor O'Hara, an Irish American priest and a key player in the life of the convent and had great stage presence, maintaining his accent throughout.
I must mention the Sisters, Mary Robert (Aimee Hart), Mary Patrick(Emma Loring) and Mary Lazarus (Rhianna Howard) who were lynchpins of the convent and were instrumental in leading the changes in the choir, assisted by Sisters Mary-Martin and Mary Theresa. These characters worked so well together and added a great deal to the production. The principal lineup was completed by Daryl Warnaar who, as Ernie, played a good support role in Act Two.
Act Two opened strongly with an inspiring rendition of Sunday Morning Fever involving Deloris, the Nuns, Monsignor, Mother Superior and Eddie. The chorus of 12 nuns had a good mix of voices which blended together admirably. The 11 members of the ensemble provided excellent backup in the bigger numbers.
The dance group of 9 were well rehearsed and slick in their routines, thanks to the choreography by Director and Choreographer Robyn Gowers.
Musical Director, Emma Nash led an impressive orchestra of 9 members whilst playing keys herself. The quality of the music was superb and provided a good balance of sound for the performers on stage. In particular, the big set numbers were well directed, Well done !
With such a large cast there, of course, was a large production team in support. Stage Manager, Ben Sawyer, and crew, did a sterling job in setting and changing the stage seamlessly. Scenery ( Paul Lazell) was fairly minimal but, with the careful use of pull across curtains was very effective. Sound and lighting were both effective and did much to enhance the production. Costumes, courtesy of Dress Circle, Witham were carefully chosen and truly reflected the characters. It was good to see that the nun's costumes looked very authentic!
Many congratulations to Director and Choreographer Robyn Gowers for her vision and hard work, ably assisted by Gemma Gray as Assistant Director, who provided invaluable support whilst Robyn had to take time out for medical reasons.
Everyone involved in this excellent production played their role superbly and I congratulate you all.
The audience certainly enjoyed the evening, as I did!
Hazel Hole MBE