Friday, 7 October 2016

"Sister Act" by Erewash Musical Society
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.
Here is one musical which, if you don't leave the theatre with a smile on your face, you've already met your maker and no one told you about it. And from where I stood, I saw no walking corpses.
What a heavenly show and what a wonderful cast graced the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton, and has done all this week.
"Sister Act", which is based on the film of the same name and starred Whoopi Goldberg is all about Deloris, a club singer in the 1970's trying to make it big in her boyfriend Curtis's club. She sees Curtis kill one of his henchmen and reports it to the police, who just happens to be her old college mate "Sweaty" Eddie. Eddie has the idea of hiding her among a convent of nuns until the court date.
This is a whole culture shock for Deloris, so to keep her out of trouble, Mother Superior puts her in charge of the choir, who's singing aptitude is described by Mother Superior as "having no words" to describe them. With Deloris' help they are transformed into a choir Gareth Malone would be proud of and by doing so saves the nunnery from being closed down.Curtis and his friends in the meantime though are determined to find Deloris and intend to make sure that she doesn't tell anyone else about what she had seen...ever!
There are quite a few new faces and names in the Erewash Musical Society's production and they fit in like a musical jigsaw puzzle.
Taking on the role of Deloris and filling those funky FM boots is the funky and fabulous Dionne Reid. Dripping with soul and 70's sexiness she belted out those heaven sent retro disco belters, despite just recently being struck down with laryngitis. Worthy of that Donna Summer white fox fur if you ask me! Dionne had some fabulous costumes to wear but saved the best till the curtain call. Great glamour and style all wrapped around a voice that reminded me of soul singer Oleta Adams. Take Me To Heaven... yes she did. Fabulous Baby...yes she was.
Curtis, the nasty man boyfriend and mobster was played with true devilish delight by Adam Richmond. Loved the way he relished telling us all about what he would do to Deloris when he found her in his song "When I Find My Baby". Oozing evilness with that nasty grin (Curtis that is not Adam), I even heard someone booing at the curtain call. A tribute to the acting skills of the very nice in real life, Adam.
I've always loved the comedy provided by Curtis' henchmen Pablo (Lewis Haycock), Joey (Kheenan Jones) and his roped in nephew T.J (Jack Readyhoof). Their song, "Lady In The Long Black Dress" is a comical classic in musical theatre and they milked the comedy value to the max, getting the ladies in the audience screaming with delight. I half expected a pair of knickers to be tossed on stage. Loved the cheesy choreography for their routine, which by the looks of it, they also rather enjoyed.
Eddie was played by Phil Brookes. I'm not sure if Phil is one of the new members as I don't think I can remember seeing him in the past, but if he is, what a find! Lovely characterisation of the policeman who has dreams of being "that guy", and what a lovely tone to his singing voice. i apologise if Phil has been in past productions and I didn't remember, but after this performance, I won't forget Mr Brookes.
Tracey Renshaw (Mother Superior) was just sublime to watch, as were all the nuns. Loved Chrissie Oakden as Sister Mary Lazarus, the leader of the choir and Ellie Simmonds as Sister Mary Robert, whos did a gorgeous version of "The Life I Never Led".
A very entertaining cast of nuns which were made up of Fiona Wright, Joan Clarke, Maria LawrenceAlysha GomesClare ToskaAlex Tavener,Christine Hewitt, Emily Oakden, Erin Keogh,Karen Robbins, Heather Howe, Gill Cooke. Laurie Trott, Leah Thompson, Kay Cocks,Sophie Robbins and Sue Hagan. Keith Butcher played a very funky Monsignor O'Hara.
Other cast members were Martin LewisGary LeverMartin MouldJames Raynerand Nick Buckthorpe.
The music is always really good at the Duchess and tonight really captured that 1970,s feel with the orchestra directed by musical theatre's equivalent of the incredible shrinking man, Dave Dallard. I felt like busting out an afro and flares listening to the evocative musical tracks. You could almost imagine John Shaft aka Richard Roundtree walking through the doors. Wonderful.
The sets came alive before your very eyes. It was if you were on a film set with the wonderful projections designed by Paul Young from Scenery Projections. You could often forget that you weren't in a nunnery or on that San Franciscan sidewalk outside the Dive Bar.
Twin that with the disco style, lighting from Dave Martin and Matthew Cook and the sound production of Ben Tennett and this production didn't just come alive, it exploded in a visual and aural extravaganza which had the audience clapping along.
Must not forget the magical retro choreography from Carol Lawson who made the party swing as well as the wonderful costumes, not just for Deloris but for the whole cast from Triple C Costumiers.
If you've nothing to do on Saturday, and that is if you're lucky enough to get a ticket because this week has been a sell out, go and see "Sister Act" because, brother, you're in for the most heavenly of musicals. Did i love it? It was Fabulous Baby!!

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