Sister Act, Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society at the Octagon Theatre

rev sisterCurtisHenchmenYEOVIL might have an exceptionally high concentration of talented music theatre performers, but gospel music and its descendant, soul, is not what the area is known for.

So it’s all the more remarkable that the long-established YAOS chose Sister Act for its big show of 2014. The company was delighted to be one of the first amateur groups to be granted the rights for this musical version of the Whoopi Goldberg film, and they do it proud.

Hopeful nightclub singer Deloris van Cartier thinks if she sticks by her married gangster lover Curtis he’ll help her career, but when she sees him shoot one of his own men, she runs … first to the police and then, as a protected witness, into a Philadelphia convent.

Disguised in the habit, and re-named Sister Mary Clarence (all the sisterhood are named Mary something or other), Deloris discovers the joy of helping others to sing at the same time as the reassurance of being surrounded by her sisters.

She saves the church, sings for the Holy Father, and everyone lives happily ever after, except Curtis and his trio of would-be low down lotharios.

The music ranges from Gospel through soul to disco and a bit of early rap, all performed with glitzy chutzpah by the Sisters of Queen of Angels Cathedral.

Deloris is the focus of the story and the music, and YAOS cast well known local choir leader and musical director Kathryn (Kat) Stevens in the role. Stepping to the other side of the rostrum, she has been perfecting her “belt” since she was cast back in November, and a wonderful noise it is.

Drama and performing arts teacher Karen Pankhurst also crossed to the other side to sing the poignant and witty role of the frosty Mother Superior, with Elouise Driver as the postulant (and no, they didn’t resist the old joke) Sister Mary Robert, a youngster who found her voice.

Deservedly popular with the first night audience were Ben Scott as TJ, Luke Whitchurch as Joey and Zade Milnes making his YAOS debut as Pablo, three preening rev sisterMonsig_MthrSuprdisco kings whose routine of wooing the nuns was a showstopper.

There is also a lovely moment for Mark Lawson as policeman Eddie, singing with the homeless in a scene reminiscent of the Hooverville in Annie.

Then there’s the Spartacus moment, when all the nuns offer themselves to be shot by Curtis to save Deloris.

It might be a bit derivative, but Sister Act has an energy and charm all of its own, underlined here by the excellent 12-strong band directed by Gill Merrifield.

It’s a feelgood show for all ages, well worth a visit and once again proving what an amazing group of people perform for a pastime in Yeovil and the surrounding area.

And it’s on until 22nd March.



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