NORTH WEST END – Review
Sister Act – Cast, Doncaster
‘Sister Act’ the musical comedy based on the 1992 smash hit movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith featuring original music by Alan Menken, dazzling dance routines and music inspired by Motown, soul and disco was brought to the stage by the newly named Doncaster Stage Productions, formerly Doncaster Amateur Operatic Society.
‘Sister Act’ is the story of a nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier who witnesses a murder at the hands of her married lover and is taken under protective custody to hide in a convent. Here she learns life lessons and helps her ‘Sister’s’ to find their voice and save their convent whilst Deloris finds friendship, meaning and her true self.
This show is the perfect vehicle for a group who are predominantly female and consist of a wide range of ages. This production had only 8 males on stage and as always, it seems males are in short supply in amateur theatre, unfortunately. In contrast, some of the more ‘mature’ ladies, rather than be hidden and underused in the background, were highlighted beautifully and with great comedic effect. What a pleasure to see – all those years of dramatic experience – showcased in such large ensemble numbers, a diamond of a show for ladies of a ‘certain age’. And as one of these ‘experienced’ ladies myself I must say ‘Yes! there is a God!’.
I attended the opening night of the show and thoroughly enjoyed it, amateur theatre at its best. However, nerves did appear to surface on the first musical numbers at the Disco Nightclub, I personally felt these numbers were a little subdued and lacked the pizzazz the lead character, Deloris, is known for. This can be forgiven, as from this point on April Sprott (Deloris Van Cartier) quickly gained her composure and delivered a sterling and totally believable performance in the role. Vocally, Miss Sprott is very capable and her beautiful soulful tones were perfect, I particularly enjoyed her rendition of ‘Sister Act’ as the real Deloris was awakened. Her characterisation was strong and maintained throughout and she was very aesthetically pleasing to watch with just the right amount of sass and comedy combined. April Sprott is a name to watch for in future.
The female ensemble was vast and heavily used in the show to great effect and the choreography was very entertaining. ‘Raise Your Voice’, was a very well -staged number and the cast made a difficult vocal number appear easy and spontaneous, impressive! I have to make a special mention of Sister Mary Lazarus (Trish Lampard) and Sister Mary Martin of Tours (Frances Lister), these talented ladies made me laugh so much, they were the very essence of the show and I was drawn to watch them every time they entered stage. These two ladies epitomised why this show is so good for many amateur societies with fabulous character actress roles.
However, my absolute stand out performer of the show has to be Andrea Sutton in the role of Mother Superior, this lady is a class act and needs to grace the stage far more often than she has done in the past! Her acting through song is riveting to experience and her diction, articulation and subtlety in performance is simply stunning. ‘I Haven’t Got a Prayer’ left me in awe and was my favourite song of the show. Miss Sutton I applaud you.
The band under the direction of Ian Gude sounded great, if a little too loud at times. Unfortunately, there were several ‘mishaps’ with lighting, sound and set on the opening night which were a little distracting, particularly in the second act. Characters opening dialogue was missed due to late Mic. cues and sound levels from the band and ensemble singers occasionally drowned out the principal’s vocals, this was a great shame but, I am sure these teething problems will be ironed out for the next performance. The production was strong enough to shoulder these hiccups.
I have seen ‘Sister Act’ several times both amateur and professional and I can unequivocally say that I enjoyed tonight’s performance of ‘Sister Act’ more than any other I have seen. DSP embodied the fun and the joy of the production with great gusto. A massive well done to all concerned for a great, feel good show. If you haven’t already bought a ticket, I urge you to go buy one and I can assure you ‘Sister Act’ will have you laughing and stood on your feet at the end in rapturous applause.
Can I add that this was my first visit to the Cast Theatre in Doncaster and what a fabulous venue it is. It will certainly not be my last visit either to this gem of a theatre or to see DSP on stage again!
Reviewer: Tracey Bell
Reviewed: 21st February 2018
Sister Act February 2018
NODA report written by Les Smith NODA Councillor North East
Playing the part of Deloris Van Cartier is not an easy thing to do, I would imagine a good number of people will compare the person playing it to Whoopie Goldberg who of course played this in the film version of Sister Act, well neither Doncaster Stage Productions nor April Sprott need any qualms about this as April was nothing less than perfect in this part, she had the right mannerisms, accent to deliver the lines and of course the voice to do the songs justice. April was perfect in every way and the audience loved her.
April had a good relationship with the Mother Superior who was also played to perfection by Andrea Sutton, again she was able to get every ounce of passion from this part to make it believable and although she was not in favour of Deloris being at the Convent she did eventually warm to her in the end. Both April and Andrea excelled themselves when they sang Here Within These Walls, it was breathtaking and loved by every member of the audience, they worked extremely well together all the way through the show and the culmination was when they sang Spread the Love Around and were joined by the rest of the company.
Of course this is not a two women show there are many others who must play their parts in order to make it work and they all did, I especially enjoyed the performance of Trish Lampard as Sister Mary Lazarus, she was excellent and had just the right amount of rebellion in her to make this part work, there were also sterling performances from Sarah Powell as the hyper Sister Mary Patrick and Kelly Jennings as Sister Mary Roberts, the young postulant who is totally unsure about everything, she however did make her mark when she eventually realised what she wanted and delivered a wonderful rendition of The Life I Never Led, it was magnificent.
The whole convent came alive when Deloris joined the rest of the nuns in songs such as It’s Good to be a Nun, Raise Your Voice and Take Me to Heaven, I was surprised the whole theatre did not join them although there were plenty on their feet at the end of the show to give a well-deserved standing ovation. The Nuns not only had Mother Superior to keep them in check, they also had Monsignor O’Hara in the guise of David Hermon supporting them, again David was able to make this part his own and deliver the goods.
On the other side of the track there was Deloris’ boyfriend Curtis played extremely well by Davron Hicks who as always was able to create a very believable character as well as providing a high standard of singing in his number When I Find my Baby where he was joined by his gang of TJ, Joey and Pablo who combined to make a superb trio of the most- unlikeliest of gangsters. Russell Horsfall, Andy Green and Jack Poskitt played these parts respectively with ease, although it is true they had a fine combination of Mullets and wigs to help them, they also were able to deliver some fine numbers with ease, I especially enjoyed Lady in the Long Black Dress and I am sure I was not the only one in the audience who thought this.
Deloris found her long lost love interest whilst at the Convent, Eddie, or Sweaty Eddie as she used to call him, Al Powell was great in this part as the very nervous unassuming Police Officer who thought he had found himself when he sang I Could be That Guy with the homeless gang, it was so funny and was loved by all.
As with many shows there are far too many parts to name them all individually but needless to say they all played their parts to deliver an extremely great show which as the standing ovation suggested was enjoyed by all and I loved the finale when several nuns were dressed as Honey G look-a-likes, brilliant.
Congratulations must be paid to Ian Colley who directed this piece and was able to put in some great little touches such as getting Sister Mary Lazarus, Trish Lampard, some brown boots to wear to show her rebellious streak and also ensuring Deloris had a bible under her pillow in the bedroom scene to show she had been reading it. This show also had a brilliant orchestra under the direction of Ian Gude who not only conducted them expertly but also was able to get the very best out of the whole cast to produce an amazing show.
Praise must also go to Susan Teale and Gemma Wigham as the Choreographers of this show, their work was stunning and fitted in extremely well with the whole concept of the show.