Reviewed at Hertford Theatre, Saturday 12 October 2019 - matinee performance
This was my first visit to Hertford Theatre and after collecting our tickets from the Box Office and looking around for someone who may have been looking out for us, we were eventually greeted warmly by a gentleman who initially thought he was welcoming the Mayor. After clearing up this misunderstanding and having collected a programme, he kindly showed us to our seats. My apologies for not making a note of his name.
Sister Act must be the ultimate feel good musical with its toe-tapping songs and moving story of the would be night club singer who witnesses a murder and is given police protection in a convent. Its popularity in the world of amateur musical theatre is such that societies jump at the chance to snap it up whenever there is a window of opportunity, before another UK tour hits the road.
HD&OS took this opportunity and delivered a slick production with a terrific principal line up and a large chorus of nuns who were obviously enjoying every minute of raising their voices.
Edlin Somorin made the perfect Delores; her strong voice belting out the vocals and pouring emotion into the title song. She was well supported in the nightclub and dream sequences by Katy Bovaird as Michelle and Helen Brooks as Tina.
A lovely performance by Kate Ayres as Mother Superior, keeping her emotions under control and allowing her softer side to come to the fore only towards the end, as called for in the script. Her songs were well sung, the director favouring the tipsy version of "I Haven't got a Prayer" as used in some professional productions. This is a powerful song expressing feelings of helplessness and frustration and, having seen various versions, I admit to still preferring the character to be sober, which to my mind allows genuine emotion to show through. That said, the number was very well performed with the character trying her best to maintain self-control.
Matthew Juggins made an excellent "Sweaty" Eddie, the Cop who had a crush on Delores in High School and is now charged with her safety. He really made the most of the role, his powerful singing voice doing justice to his solo "I Could be That Guy" and his strip change going without a hitch. I always wait with baited breath when this moment comes and love the reaction from the audience when the Travolta outfit is revealed.
David Bottomley was suitably menacing as Curtis and Monsignor O'Hara well played by Ian James.
The show stopper is invariably "Lady in the Long Black Dress" sung by Joey, TJ and Pablo, well played here by James Reynolds, Graham Duncan and Chris Lucas. I love it when this number is performed with outrageous dance- moves as it has the ability to render the audience helpless with laughter. This version was certainly well performed and was much appreciated by a particular section of the audience who I guess were probably known to the performers. I did feel though that the guys probably had more to give.
A good performance was given by Hannah-Marie Juggins as the young Postulant, Sister Mary Robert. Her song "The Life I Never Had" was sung with great feeling. Sister Mary Patrick and Sister Mary Lazarus were well played by Natasha Easton and Julie Markey.
Scenery was good. I particularly liked the backdrops which were used to very good effect and required only a minimal number of stage props, enabling scene changes to be carried out swiftly and smoothly. Good use was made of the apron with Mother Superior's office stage left and the police station stage right.
The show was well costumed and I do so love seeing the nuns in their colourful and sparkly outfits and listening to the audience's reaction, especially when the gold and red tabards are revealed.
The nuns provided some lovely harmonies and the orchestra under the direction of Keith Willis was excellent accompaniment. On occasions the underscoring was rather loud making it difficult to hear the dialogue and sound was rather harsh in the big chorus numbers. I can only assume these were technical issues.
Overall though this was a very enjoyable production. My congratulations to all concerned.
Decia Ranger NODA East, District 7 On behalf of Vicki Avery