Musicality’s annual production this year is inspired by the successful 1992 musical comedy film Sister Act which follows the story of Deloris Van Cartier. She is a club singer who aspires to become a star, a goal that is in jeopardy when she witnesses her thug boyfriend commit a murder. Put under protective custody in a convent by the police, headed by old high school peer ‘Sweaty Eddie’, she quickly clashes with the convent’s Mother Superior. This results in Deloris being forced into the terrible nunnery choir that she then sets out to transform. The debut show at the Arts Theatre on the 14th February brings together great talent that showcases how hard the student-run cast and crew have worked to bring this heart-warming musical to Nottingham.
“Olugbemi’s voice and stage presence were outstanding”
A musical comedy would be limited if the cast did not take to their characters well, but it was clear that this was not an issue. Each member on stage fulfilled their roles to the maximum, truly making this sharp and funny show come to life. Opening with a lively musical number from the protagonist Deloris, played by Adaeze Olugbemi, the audience were treated to a snippet of the exciting tunes that were to come throughout the acts. Overall, Olugbemi’s voice and stage presence were outstanding as she embodied the sassy character. She handled not one, but two, wardrobe malfunctions very well since she carried on like a professional and did not allow it to affect the song or the choreography. Whilst such things often occur in student theatre, it is likely that this could cause slight chaos, in turn affecting the audience’s experience. However, the cast members subtly helped fix the dress problem and such chaos was immediately discarded.
Having previously reviewed Musicality productions, I had already arrived with the notion that the cast and crew present a great display of professionalism. Nevertheless, I was still pleasantly surprised that the entire show was crafted by students- from the actors to the musicians to the backstage team. The director, Rhondri Denton, and producers, Sascha Cornelius and Nathan Penney, have executed the bold and bursting energy of Sister Act which has orchestrated a dazzling tribute to the hit film and Broadway production that is sure uplift anyone from those New Year blues.
“The audience was having equally as much fun watching the show as it seemed the cast and crew did making it”
The joyful and uplifting atmosphere was enhanced by the many songs that featured. It was great to include many of the songs that we know so well, as it ensured the audience was having equally as much fun watching the show as it seemed the cast and crew did making it. In the second act, the songs were becoming somewhat tiresome, although this was balanced out by the improvement in the choreography. It did appear that some dance numbers were slightly amateur, particularly when the ensemble of nuns were on stage altogether as it seemed to be a tight squeeze on stage. The choreography did get better throughout- with the disco moves being especially funny!
The costume manager, Katie Fortune, and the hair and makeup manager, Kate Poyser, did an incredible job. Whilst the nun’s outfits were not exactly diverse, the little touches to portray their individuality was evident. Sister Mary Theresa’s makeup and costume perfectly portrayed her age, and the actress who played her, Charlotte Howarth, added elements that made her one of the most comedic characters in the show.
“Musicality have yet again excelled at their annual production”
The band were positioned towards the back of the stage and their performance on the opening night was as good as the cast. Music by Alan Menken, the instruments used created the right emotions when needed, and were a great way to mask the scene changes. In the remaining productions, it would be an improvement to make these changes quicker, as there were a few moments where the audience were waiting. Overall, Musicality have yet again excelled at their annual production and it would be worthwhile for anyone interested in soulful music and a fun atmosphere to make a trip to the Arts Theatre to enjoy this production.
Image credits Shanai Momi