Louise Gains

Louise's new Role is Second to Nun!

When Whoopi Goldberg put on a habit and brought chaos to Maggie Smith’s convent, the result was comedy gold. ‘Sister Act’ became one of the most popular films of the 1990s. Now there’s reason to rejoice, as the fabulous stage musical version of Sister Act is coming to Basingstoke for the very first time.

Louise Gains takes Whoopi’s role of Deloris Van Cartier, the nightclub diva who witnesses a crime and must go into hiding.

Louise Gains in rehearsal as Doloris for Sister Act
Louise Gains in rehearsal as Doloris for Sister Act

“I’ve always loved the film, then I saw the musical in Guildford and thought it was amazing,” says Louise. “I thought ‘that’s a part I really want to play’. People say I’ve got that swagger, and the songs are great to perform – really soulful and uplifting.”

Louise can draw on a wealth of musical experience. Away from her day job as a finance administrator, she sings with the funk band Verber, records with local artists, has played the main stage at Basingstoke Live and even been heard on Radio 1 Xtra.

It’s a busy schedule but she’s got great support from her two sons JJ, who’s 10, and Kaiden, 8. “They’re singing along and helping me learn the lines. I hope they’ll be proud of me when they see me on stage.”

A lot of the fun in Sister Act comes from the choir of nuns whose singing goes from bad to brilliant, thanks to guidance from Louise’s character. “The nuns are fantastic, they’ve all got their own personalities, and their singing is joyful. You’ll come out of the theatre feeling totally uplifted!”

Six performances of Sister Act run from Tuesday 12th - Saturday 16th May. Performances start at 7:30pm with a 2:30pm Saturday matinee.

In rehearsal with the Sha-bop Girls for Little Shop of Horrors

Pictured from left to right - Meet Ronette (Kirsty Bennett), Chiffon (Louise Gains) and Crystal (Jade Hollingshead). Their names conjure up memories of glamorous American girl groups from the early 1960s. That’s a big clue to the type of music this sassy trio will be performing in the BATS production of the Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors at the Haymarket in May.

The Sha-bop Girls in rehearsal
The Sha-bop Girls in rehearsal

Played by Louise Gains, Kirsty Bennett and Jade Hollingshead, the Sha-bop Girls, as they’re called, provide some sweet 60’s sounds as the comedy/horror storyline unfolds.

“There are a lot of challenges,” says Jade. “Always singing in close harmony, getting the dance moves in sync together...” Kirsty agrees: “It’s the timing, moving exactly the same as the other girls.” For Louise it’s a bigger ask: “I have two left feet,” she admits, “it’s out of my comfort zone!” But other aspects of the character are easier to find: “The Sha-bop Girls are lively, streetwise and a bit cheeky – like me!”

The Sha-bop Girls pop in and out of the action as hapless shop assistant Seymour tries to keep the gruesome secret of his man-eating plant. Their sizzling songs offer a wry commentary as the plant grows to a massive size and aims for world domination.

Little Shop of Horrors is the first time the three girls have sung together, and they’re loving it. “It’s such an amazing group of people,” says Kirsty. “The show’s going to be brilliant!”

Aside from previous shows with BATS, Kirsty used to be a holiday camp entertainer and reached the final of Basingstoke’s Festival Factor singing competition. Louise has performed on the main stage of Basingstoke Live and been heard on Radio 1 Xtra. Jade has taken lead roles in ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Our House’ with BATS Next Gen.

“I’m looking forward to the craziness of costumes, lights, and seeing the whole show come together,” says Louise of the prospect of performing at The Haymarket. For Jade, it’s all about “making my friends and family proud, believing in myself, and not giving up on my dreams to be in the West End.” And what’s Kirsty most looking forward to? “Seeing the giant plant on stage!”

Six performances of Little Shop of Horrors run from Tues 14th – Sat 18th May at The Haymarket, Basingstoke.

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