Disclaimer: Complimentary tickets were gifted for review purposes. All views and opinions are my own
Last night, Freya and I were treated to a joyful evening of entertainment at West Bridgford Operatic Society’s opening performance of the hit musical “Sister Act”. It’s incredibly late as I sit writing this, but I couldn’t wait to share everything I loved about this uplifting and heartwarming production.
Sister Act – The Musical is based on the hit 1992 film of the same name with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. WBOS’s production is directed by Beth Yearsley, with musical direction by Sam Griffiths as choreography by Emily Owen.
In case you somehow weren’t aware, Sister Act tells the story of nightclub singer, Deloris Van Cartier, who after witnessing a murder by her gangster boyfriend, has to seek refuge in the most unlikely of places – a local convent.
Sascha Cornelius gave a fabulous, feisty performance as our diva extraordinaire, Deloris. Deloris is a big, demanding part and Sascha did not seem intimidated in the slightest. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her strut her stuff in her opening nightclub numbers, but I really thought she came into her element when she put on that habit.
She had heaps of attitude and her flamboyant, irreverent character provided a brilliant contrast to the more restrained, demure nuns. Freya was quite disappointed that she didn’t get a chance to speak to Sascha at the end of the show, so she wanted me to pass on the message that she thought she did great job.
Tom Parry played Deloris’ mobster ex-boyfriend, and as Freya said, he was funny but terrifying. Tom absolutely threw himself into the role and gave a great performance, providing plenty of comic relief while also bringing a sense of menace and threat to the story.
Speaking of comic relief, you couldn’t have asked for more from Curtis’ useless trio of goons, TJ (Chris Heeley), Joey (Gareth Morris) and Pablo (Gabriel Bonilla Zorita). I really enjoyed how the trio felt like a cohesive unit, but still managed to give three individual characters with their own quirks and personalities.
Their hilariously sexy (or is that sexily hilarious) number “Lady in the Long Black Dress” was a definite highlight of the show for me. They performed it perfectly, with complete commitment and I could not stop laughing and cheering along.
Ray McLeod gave an adorable performance as Eddie Souther, the unlucky policeman who is given the thankless task of protecting Deloris. I really enjoyed how Ray showed the range of Eddie’s character, from the bumbling nervous guy we meet at the start of the show, to the more confident person who emerges in the end. He had the whole audience rooting for him, especially during his big musical number, “I Could Be That Guy”.
Let’s be honest though. This show really starts when we finally meet the true stars – the Nuns.
The formidable Mother Superior of the convent was played flawlessly by Becky Kirkham. I particularly enjoyed watching her cross swords with Deloris, each blistering set down delivered with perfect timing. Her stunning voice was also showcased beautifully in her two musical numbers, “Here Within These Walls” and “I Haven’t Got A Prayer”.
I was really impressed with Sarah Shield’s performance as the timid Sister Mary Robert. She hit all the right notes (pun intended) with this complex character and it was so satisfying to see her cofindence blossom throughout the show. It’s a vocally challenging role, but I really felt that Sarah stood up to the challenge, especially in the song “The Life I Never Led”, which is probably my favourite song from the show.
Jo Hooper was an absolute joy to watch as Sister Mary Patrick. She bounced across the stage with bundles of energy which was completely infectious. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her whenever she was on stage.
The heart of WBOS has always been its ensemble, and that was particularly evident in the chorus of nuns. I loved watching all of the performers interact, each bringing their own unique flair to their characters. Any moment they were all on stage was a highlight, from their introduction in “It’s Good to Be a Nun” to the hilarious chase sequence at the end of the show.
Other honorable mentions have to go to Jill Hemington (Sister Mary Lazarus), Julie Fowler (Sister Mary Martin of Tours) and Anne McCarroll (Sister Mary Theresa), who each had some standout moments. I think it will be a long time before I forget the image of Jill rapping her heart out!
The musical elements of the show were in good hands with Sam Griffiths. I thought the band produced a really lovely sound, setting just the right mood for the show, and the ensemble produced some lovely harmonies, particularly in the choral numbers and “Bless Our Show.” While the songs of Sister Act are all original and may be unfamiliar, I can guarantee you that they will get stuck in your head and leave you tapping your toes.
Sister Act doesn’t require the most demanding choreography, but I thought Emily Owen did a great job with what was needed. The choreography, particularly in the Nun’s numbers, was simple but effective and added to the effect of the whole show.
Overall, Freya and I had an absolute blast watching West Bridgford Operatic Society perform Sister Act. The show is jam-packed of comedy, action and catchy tunes that are guaranteed to have you wanting to jump up on your feet and dance along. It really is the perfect evening of feel-good entertainment and we enjoyed every minute.
WBOS’s production of Sister Act is being performed at The Space, Squire Performing Arts Centre until Saturday 19th February and tickets are available through the website. There are only a few tickets available, so if you’re interested you better get in there fast!
Many thanks to WBOS for inviting us to come and watch the show and I wish you all the best with the rest of the run.