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Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Society's Sister Act, Brierley Hill Town Hall - review

By Alison Norton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Society brought the house down on the opening night of ecclesiastical extravaganza Sister Act.

The cast of Sister Act

The hit musical, that came to Brierley Hill Town Hall last night, tells the tale of Deloris Van Cartier, a sassy third-rate nightclub singer who witnesses a murder committed by her gangster boyfriend and his hoods.

Realising she is surplus to requirements, Deloris faces life on the run, but luckily her old school pal Sweaty Eddie, now a policeman, is on-hand to hide her in the most unlikely place – a convent.

Marc Shairman’s score was wonderfully uplifting and exciting, though it did differ from the 1992 film version we all know and love.

That said, rip-roaring, upbeat numbers such as It’s Good to be a Nun, Fabulous Baby and Take me to Heaven filled my heart with joy, and from the audience's reaction, they obviously felt the same.

The script was an all-American comedy filled with witty, quick-fire quips, but also moments that were moving and poignant too; making for a modern musical comedy.

Keshia Herbert made her stage debut in the demanding role of Deloris, but despite her limited experience, wowed the audience with outstanding vocals and a natural sense of comedy that aided her character's likeability.

Tom Robinson as Sweaty Eddie also demonstrated a fine voice and appeared suitably harassed by Deloris’ antics, yet remained appealing and believable throughout the show, making the best of what could have potentially been deemed a weak role.

A special mention must go to Elysia Stretton who was demure and affable as Sister Mary Robert, delivering her solo, The Life I Never Led, with conviction.

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Natalie Baggott as Sister Mary Lazarus worked alongside Elysia perfectly as the ideal scene-stealing comedy nun.

Keisha Herbert

I could not take my eyes off Jo Tranter as Sister Mary Theresa; an extremely seasoned actress who retained the guise of her aged character perfectly throughout the whole show.

Carl Cook, Mike James, David Shaw and Ollie Hart-Bradford were offered the funniest roles in the show on a plate, as Curtis and his grubby little gang of sleaze-ball 70s gangsters - and boy did they take their comedy lines and run with them.

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With outstanding comedic skills and timing, particularly in the Lady in the Long Black Dress number, they were the highlights of the show and provided the biggest laughs of the evening.

But the evening really belonged to Sheila Wood as Mother Superior, whose excellent soprano voice, exceptional characterisation and faultless delivery of comedy lines made for the perfect holy sister.

A venue always dictates the technical side of a performance and in this case, the scenery was unfortunately far too large and heavy for the stage on which it was set, and so its movement did cause some of the scenes to drag a little, but nevertheless the cast took it in their stride and simply carried on.

As with all amateur groups, the ensemble was far larger than a professional show and maybe there were just a few too many nuns for the size of the stage, but they executed the slick choreography with style, making the numbers simply joyous.

Everyone got their moment to shine, particularly in the show-stopping, gloriously glittery finale, Spread the Love Around, which saw the whole company in superb costumes courtesy of Triple C Costume Hire from Stourbridge.

The audience left the venue praising the Lord, singing Hallelujah and dancing down the street after a religious experience which can only be described as divine.

Sister Act runs at Brierley Hill Town Hall until June 9.

For tickets visit http://www.qbmts.org.uk or email secretary@qbmts.org.uk

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton
@AlisonNorton

Theatre critic and unofficial 'am dram queen' for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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