Chesterfield Studios with the new company, Theatre and Beyond are putting on a heavenly production at the Pomegranate Theatre this week, and based on the opening night’s performance it’s a sure fire hit.
Sister Act is more famous as a film starring Whoopi Goldberg, but while the story is based on the film, throw away any previous experiences of Deloris Van Cartier before you sit down in the theatre.
Christmas in ‘70s Philadelphia is steeped in Disco and the music doesn’t let you down. Amara Campbell (Deloris) opens the show with Take Me To Heaven and immediately makes the role her own.
Once the story moves to the convent, Yvonne Taylor (Mother Superior) is a great foil for the brash Deloris, setting the scene and laying down the rules of the convent. The unbelieving Deloris is counter pointed by the perky and bubbly Sister Mary Patrick (Georgii Bailey).
Under the direction of Phil Simcox, from the opening number onwards the stage is sparsely populated with scenery but this works as your eye is always drawn to the cast and their performances. Clever use of projections guides the audience through the locations.
While Deloris wrestles with her inner demons in the second half, Sister Mary Robert (Helen Perry) finds her courage and in a spectacular way, her voice (The Life I Never Led).
While the entire show has a light feel, comic relief is supplied by Pablo (Ryan Mitchell), Joey (Cameron Trail) and TJ (Owen Jenkinson) particularly as they try to out do each other in discussions about breaking into the convent (Lady in the Long Black Dress) under the orders of Curtis (Duncan Leech), the local crime boss.
Monsignor O’Hara (Adam Guest) got funky and encouraged the congregation to get down with the choir during Sunday Service while Sister Mary Lazarus (Sara Evans-Bolger) brought a new meaning to Hip-Hop.
Not a stranger to the Pomegranate stage, Andy Moore pulls at Deloris’ heart strings as Eddie, the unrequited love from High School who is doing his damnedest to protect the nightclub singer turned nun.
The entire cast move and groove under the choreography of Paula Wilson while Jonathan Francis was driving the orchestra and the music with his usual enthusiasm from the pit.
Sister Act hands out blessings until Thursday 22nd February at the Pomegranate Theatre. To book tickets click here.
Images courtesy of Ian Boler Photography.