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REVIEW: 'Dazzling' Sister Act musical set to open at Harrogate Theatre

The cast of Sister Act following their dress rehearsal.

If I were to sum up in one word the latest show from RAOS Musical Theatre Company, that word would be exuberance.

It permeated their performance of Sister Act the Musical from start to finish and my only regret was not being up there on stage with a cast that was so clearly enjoying itself. Directed by Mark Edwards, this marks another triumph for RAOS.

Set in Philadelphia, the story centres on Deloris Van Cartier (Grace Knill), a feisty and flamboyant small-time singer who has witnessed a murder committed by her gangster boyfriend Curtis (Chris Wall) and needs to be hidden until he can be brought to justice. 

‘Sweaty Eddy’ (Richard Hawley), a policeman she has known since high school and who is very smitten with Deloris, hits upon the idea of hiding her in a convent attached to a church badly in need of funds. 

Despite the grave doubts of the Mother Superior(Rowenna Naylor), Deloris is soon installed there, with only the optimistic Irish Monsignor (Ryan Stocks) also aware that Sister Mary Clarence is not what she seems.

Given the task of transforming their hitherto hopeless choir, she makes such a success of it that services are soon packed and donations come rolling in. 

With strong performances all round, everyone will have their favourites. Fabulous Baby!, with Deloris and her backup singers Michelle (Kyra Lewindon) and Tina (Tina Davis),put me in mind of the glory days of Tamla Motown and I was also very taken with the comedic antics of Curtis’s henchmen TJ (Luke Bailey), Joey (Will Thirlaway) and Pablo (Elliot Hutchinson) as well as altar boy and occasional drag queen Jack Moran. 

Jude Humphrey’s choreography played a big part in this as well as the rest of the show and it was evident that everyone had been very well rehearsed. The same could be said of the excellent singing under the musical direction of John Atkin, who also conducted the band.

The sets were good, particularly the stained glass windows of the church, and the costumes dazzled. It was a nice touch that shy postulant Mary Robert (Kelly Robbins), coaxed out of her shell by Deloris, finished the show with a pair of glittery boots over her usual white ankle socks while the ‘bad guys’ were in striped prison uniforms.

The cast on stage, the musicians in the pit and the team working so hard behind the scenes are all deserving of praise. Even RAOS President Albert Day puts in a brief appearance as the Pope. Do go and see this feel-good, uplifting show! You will leave with a smile on your face, as I have. 

 

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