Chance for everyone to shine in 'fabulous' Sister Act tribute, May 2015 Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society's Chairman Anthony Mitchell writes in his programme notes that the disco beat of this show might get your feet tapping in the finale - mine were going right from the off!
This is a terrifically fun treatment of Cheri and Bill Steinkellner's book, with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, which was in turn based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg.
It concerns ambitious nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier (Louise Gains) who is forced to take refuge in a convent after she witnesses her sleazy on-off boyfriend Curtis (Paul Morris) murder one of his gang.
BATS’ version has been expertly choreographed and directed by Martyn Knight, assisted by Gary J Myers, with costume co-ordination by Judith Ifould.
The Haymarket stage has been taken over by a terrifically lit and rather complex multi-layered chapel set for the duration of the production, and plaudits must go to stage manager Steve Brannam and all of the team for tackling this one!
The really strong cast across the board achieve many and varied things throughout the running time, impressing all the while. There are just so many moments where individuals step up and shine, regardless of the size of their role.
Leading lady Louise Gains as Deloris has an incredible voice and her super, sassy performance is the perfect foil for her opposite number, the brilliant Sally Manning – whose vocals have a stunning power and purity - as the Mother Superior.
They are supported by a wonderfully winning group of nuns, whose infectious smiles are impossible to resist throughout. Among their talented number are Tracey Gonzato’s buoyant Sister Mary Patrick, Liz Ilett’s hilarious rapping Sister Mary Lazarus and Jade Hollingshead as Sister Mary Robert. Young Jade knocks the beautiful solo The Life I Never Led out of the park.
But the girls don’t have it all their own way. Debuting Alasdair Beddow demonstrates great comic timing and makes a terrific impression as Eddie, whilst Colin Flaherty’s Mosignor O’Hara forms a great double act with the Mother Superior he plots to save the convent.
Moment of the night for some might be the terrific trio of Liam Brelsforth (Pablo), Gavin Brooker (Joey) and Max Harwood (TJ), who explain their varied methods of seduction in the hilarious Lady in the Long Black Dress. Max is also debuting with the adult company and delivers awesome comedic character work. Well done to him.
Musical director Rachel Glover and the orchestra play the legendary Alan Menken’s funky music in fine style, supporting the standout vocal work throughout.
As the cast take to the stage for the glitzy finale clad to reprise Raise Your Voice, you might very well be on your feet to join them. This Sister Act is certainly “fabulous baby” and a fitting tribute to long-term BATS member Aileen Scriven, to whose memory it is dedicated.