Sometimes a visit to the theatre turns out to be something special, and this proved to be the case with the hugely talented Starbuck Youth Theatre production of the Alan Menken and Glen Slater musical Sister Act. Having seen this show many times, with varying degrees of success, I must confess to approaching with great interest the way this particular company, a Youth one, would handle such a notoriously difficult show. Staged at the Coach House Theatre Malvern and playing to a capacity audience it soon became apparent we were in for a special treat. The split-level set with band underneath worked remarkably well in this particular theatre.
Sister Act is a team show on many levels. We have the nuns in the convent, the baddies trying to find our heroine, and the various individuals who happen along the way. The show is dependent though on the strength of the central character Deloris, who having witnessed a murder is hidden away in a convent with a bunch of zany nuns. Olivia Mitchell is outstanding as the central character. This young lady who is just seventeen is professional in every way. Her singing, acting, and dancing would grace any theatre in England. Her vocal ability is outstanding and she never ceases to act from her first appearance to the very last. She is well supported by Alice Ryan as the stern and unsympathetic Mother Superior. A performance made all the more creditable in that she is just 14 years old. Other members worthy of mention in such a wonderful team are Charlotte Wallis as Sister Mary Roberts, with the most superb vocal strength and range, Lucy Darby who just was Sister Mary Patrick in every way, and Holly Russell as a very old but lively Sister Mary Lazarus. For the men, we had the excellent singing voice and acting of Jack Giblen as Police Lt. Eddie Souther, Wilf Jenkins as an hilarious dancing Monsignor O’Hara, and Joshua Grainger as the gangster Curtis Shank, who we all hated from his first controlling scenes with Deloris– a strength to his acting ability! He was ably supported by his three sidekicks, (Anand Patel, James Thomas and Edd Pope) who had the audience in stitches as they hilariously tried to make the ladies swoon in the number Lady in the Long Black Dress.
It is though as I say a team performance with no weak links in the entire cast and full credit must go to Director and Choreographer Sarah Pavlovs. Here we have a director with a keen eye for detail and a secure knowledge in her own ability to bring the very best from her Company. Staging, angles, “pictures” on stage are all there. She has pulled off a theatrical success where many adult companies have failed. Musical direction was in the capable hands of the experienced and talented Chris Corcoran and his band. Lighting and sound supported the show in the most professional manner . A team show in every way.
At the end of the show the entire audience (and I mean EVERYONE) gave a wonderful and greatly deserved standing ovation to this extremely talented team of youngsters. As I said at the start of this review……this was something special.
Joan Evans. Pictures by pixeled onions
For more information on Starbuck Classes and shows follow @StarbuckTheatre on twitter and facebook and visit www.starbucktheatrecompany.co.uk
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