Sister Act – NODA Review, November 2016


Director:  Alan Cox    MD:  Simon Gargrave
Choreographer:  Matt Fowler

Alban Arena, St Albans                    11th November 2016

 I think one can safely say that this production was a triumph!  The energy, enthusiasm and professional approach to the production was evident from all the cast.  The audience could see they were enjoying every moment, and therefore we enjoyed it too.

Musically it couldn’t be faulted, I thought Simon Gargrave had done a good job with the cast in general, and his orchestra accompanied well, giving due thought to when they were accompanying and when they could let rip!  Sound balance between stage and orchestra was also well-managed.

Technically there were a few problems with scene changes.  I thought the lighting was mostly good, however there were a couple of late lighting cues, leaving the cast in darkness, and the extreme sides of the stage weren’t lit, so we were left at times with main characters in very subdued lighting.

The direction from Alan Cox was good, the show was also very well cast.  I loved Matt Fowler’s choreography.  Always slightly quirky it really suited the upbeat feel of the production.

Vivienne Ekwulugo created a stunning Deloris – always believable, she had a really good voice to support the rather impudent, but often insecure character she was playing.  I liked her relationships with Curtis and the Mother Superior, also with Eddie, showing the different sides of the woman.

I loved Charlotte Gregory’s interpretation of the Mother Superior, as well as beautiful singing, there was sensitivity, feistiness and you could see the gradual liking and perhaps almost respect for Deloris – a lovely really rounded character.

Stefanie Chadburn and Aditi Sawjani as Michelle and Tina created good characters as the backing duo for Deloris, I really enjoyed the two opening numbers which featured the three ladies.

Julian Evans was a slick Curtis, there were times when I would have liked him to be a bit more unpleasant, but he came over well.

I liked the diversity of Curtis’s three heavies – Adam Feighoney as Joey, Patrick Rufey as Pablo (with a very dodgy wig!) and Oliver Sutton-Izzard as TJ, they all gave us good portrayals, and I enjoyed their musical numbers as they brought a lot of humour to them.

I thought Justin Jeffreys suited the part of the geek Eddie, he showed the insecurities of the man, and also a self-deprecating humour, plus his undoubted adoration of Deloris, nicely pitched.

I always feel that Monsignor O’Hara is a difficult part to pitch, as he is more or less a narrator, however Tony Bradburn gave him an understanding nature, that blended well with Mother Superior, although I would have liked a little more authority in his tone particularly at the beginning.

Andrea Campusano as Sister Mary Patrick has a lovely face, which was accentuated so nicely by her wimple.  Her buoyant and bubbly personality shone through, and was nicely contrasted by Mary Watkinson’s acerbic and prickly Sister Mary Lazarus – both these ladies also sang their parts really well with plenty of expression.

I liked Lizzie Tatton as Sister Mary Robert and found her singing of The Life I Never Led very touching.  Her initial diffidence was an essential part of the character, which then morphed into her growing confidence in herself.

The principals were well supported by an excellent ensemble of Nuns, who threw themselves into their parts, each creating their own space within the community, and singing so awfully to start with, and gradually growing to such an uplifting swell of sound.

Costumes were very good – all the Nun’s habits were worn well, no-one tried to dress them up, and I liked the nightwear too – it added a nice touch of reality to the Nun’s persona.

So overall an excellent show, that left me feeling uplifted, but also quite drained, as the show was so absorbing that I almost felt as if I’d been performing with them!!