SISTER ACT A Divine Musical Comedy
Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
08/09/2017 - 23/09/2017
Nuns take to the stage in Broadway hit musical comedy
The final production in the Showbiz Christchurch 2017 season opens at the Isaac Theatre Royal on 8 September. Sister Act – A Divine Musical Comedy follows the exploits of 1970s wannabe disco diva Deloris Van Cartier as she escapes from her gangster boyfriend. Having witnessed him commit a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be a found: a convent!
Disguised as a nun, Deloris finds herself at odds with the rigid lifestyle of the nuns and their uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent, she inspires the nuns to create a more contemporary choir and they become the hit of the community. Word of their success reaches her ex-boyfriend Curtis, who arrives with his gang to settle the score with Deloris.
Sister Act is directed and choreographed by New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate Sara Brodie who has an extensive list of directorial credits to her name including over eighty productions for theatre companies throughout Australasia. Her last Showbiz Christchurch production was directing Monty Python’s Spamalot in 2015.
Musician and composer Matthew Everingham is directing the score of gospel and disco music written by Tony and eight-time Oscar winner, Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors).
Monique Clementson will play Deloris, the same role she recently performed in Invercargill Musical Theatre’s production of Sister Act. Clementson is a big ‘70s fan who grew up listening to disco hits and counts Sister Act I and II as her favourite movies. Growing up in Nelson, she and her older brother would compete against each other to sing the high notes in the gospel hits that featured in the Sister Act movies. It wasn’t until Clementson attended the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA) in Christchurch in 2014 that she realised her favourite movies had been turned into a Broadway musical featuring all new original music.
Nick Purdie will perform the role of the gangster boyfriend, Curtis Jackson. Purdie played alongside Clementson as Cop and love interest ‘Sweaty’ Eddie in the Invercargill production. Jackson’s gang will be played by Chris Symon (TJ), Blair McHugh (Joey) and Rychalo Thompson (Pablo). Matt McMenamin will perform the role of Eddie.
Charlotte Taylor and Greta Casey-Solly will complete Deloris’s cabaret trio in the roles of Michelle and Tina.
Veteran musical theatre and cabaret entertainer Sarah Greenwood-Buchanan steps back on stage as Mother Superior. Her most recent supporting lead role was as Tanya in the sell-out Showbiz season of Mamma Mia! The principal nuns will feature Hannah Falconer (Sister Mary Robert), Kate Taylor (Sister Mary Patrick), Nickie Wellbourn (Sister Mary Lazarus), Anne-Marie Cotton (Sister Mary Martin of Tours) and Glenda Bailey (Sister Mary Theresa). Ian Lester will play Monsignor O’Hara and Raoul Neave will appear as the Pope.
Clementson and Purdie will be joined on-stage by a cast of more than 50 nuns, gangsters, altar boys, singers, dancers and musicians to create a stunning looking and sounding show with all the pizzazz of Broadway.
“The auditions for Sister Act were a revelation as auditionee after auditionee sang incredibly well – which of course meant we had to turn away some very good singers. It is a credit to the voice teachers in Christchurch,” says Brodie. “I am looking forward to hearing our Nuns singing together for the first time, which given their individual talents will be quite something.”
The Showbiz Christchurch production of
SISTER ACT A Divine Musical Comedy
Isaac Theatre Royal, 8-23 September 2017
Evening performances at 7.30pm Tues-Sat
Sunday Matinees: 4 pm, 10 & 17 September 2017
Tickets available from ticketek.co.nz/showbiz or phone 0800 842 538
Show Page | Cast | Band | Media Release | Image Library
Monique Clementson: Deloris Van Cartier
Sarah Greenwood-Buchanan: Mother Superior
Matt McMenamin: Eddie Souther
Nick Purdie: Curtis Jackson
Chris Symon: TJ
Blair McHugh: Joey
Rychalo Thompson: Pablo
Hannah Falconer: Sister Mary Robert
Nickie Wellbourn: Sister Mary Lazarus
Kate Taylor: Sister Mary Patrick
Ian Lester: Monsignor O'Hara
Anne-Marie Cotton: Sister Mary Martin of Tours
Glenda Bailey: Sister Mary Theresa
Charlotte Taylor: Michelle
Greta Casey-Solly: Tina
Full Cast & Band: Full Sister Act Cast
Official show webpage: showbiz.org.nz/sister-act
Tickets: Ticketek.co.nz/Showbiz or 0800 842 538
Theatre , Musical ,
Entertaining and engaging
Review by Tony Ryan 12th Sep 2017
Although Sister Act is little more than undemanding candyfloss, Sara Brodie’s production for Showbiz Christchurch highlights its humanity and pathos so effectively that its gentle humour and uplifting vitality made it a night of truly delectable entertainment.
What could easily have been the all-too-usual big brash Broadway approach, emerged as entertaining, engaging and even, at times, genuinely moving. The show is superbly cast, from Monique Clementson’s impressively portrayed Deloris Van Cartier, to the consistently believable and focused performances of the entire ensemble. [More]
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Sparkles with infectious energy
Review by Grant Hindin Miller 09th Sep 2017
Deloris Van Cartier, a black Philadelphian night-club singer, auditions for Curtis, her gangster boyfriend – she wants to sing in his club. After the audition she happens upon Curtis shooting and killing a ‘squealer’. Terrified, she runs to the Police (an old high-school friend) to report the murder. Agreeing to take the stand against Curtis, the Police ‘hide’ her (‘incognegro’) in a Convent: the one place Curtis and his thugs won’t look.
This is a ‘fish out of water’ tale – a streetwise Filly girl in a Convent so moribund it’s about to be sold to developers. Deloris is forced into a habit and has to drop a few ‘habits’ along the way. Adjustments need to be made by both sides but, given our newcomer’s pushy personality, mostly by the nuns and their stuffy Mother Superior. Because of her musical prowess Deloris, renamed Sister Mary Clarence, helps out with the choir. With her injection of new swing and ‘boogie’, which the nuns imbibe like fish gasping for oxygen, the church attracts new patrons. Monsignor O’Hara knows a good thing when he sees one and invites the Pope to their new revivalist home.
Gangster Curtis and his boys, however, are always in the background and the inevitable showdown looms.
This is slick, colourful, polished entertainment with evocative backdrops, brilliant live musical accompaniments, attractive choreography, dazzling costumes, and topped off by committed performances from a gigantic cast. With Sister Act, Showbiz Christchurch triumphs once more with a full razzamatazz theatrical extravaganza.
You hope for a show where everyone is doing their best and here it is. Not surprisingly every member of the cast deserves the thunderous applause which, on opening night, extends to a number of curtain-calls.
Monique Clementson, as Deloris, owns the demanding lead role. How she sleeps after the adrenaline of that performance, or how she wakes, doesn’t bear thinking. Once she hits that stage she leaves nothing behind – she brings swagger, comedy, high energy, a commanding stage presence, powerful singing, a changing emotional barometer, and she wins us all over.
There are so many stand-out performers: Sarah Greenwood Buchanan as Mother Superior, Hannah Falconer as Sister Mary Robert, Kate Taylor as Sister Mary Patrick, Ian Lester as Monsignor O’Hara, and Matt McMenamin as Eddie, the sympathetic policeman. And all these actors can really sing! The audience adores the song by the three heavies: Blair McHugh, Rychalo Thompson, and Chris Symon. On all fronts the singing is powerful, confident, and the choir rousing – at times even ‘heavenly’.
Matthew Everingham has done a perfect job as Musical Director. The band is tight, the accompaniments hit the right spot and the players sound like they love what they’re doing which is exactly what you want. The music, with its delicious echoes of cheesy disco and Pink Panther themes, is absolutely fabulous. I note that Matthew tutors at NASDA and that Monique Clementson and Matt McMenamin graduated from NASDA (as did and many others on stage). NASDA is creating a rich theatrical provenance for Christchurch and Showbiz Christchurch is to be applauded for recognising and showcasing that talent.
With a few deep bellied chuckles the story pokes fun at fusty religious tradition – even the Pope makes a gleaming-white rockstar appearance. It may be a man’s world but you can be assured that sisterhood will win in the end.
Sister Act sparkles with infectious energy and body rocking music. The storyline will warm the cockles of your heart and the staging and artistic commitment of every player is a better tonic than vitamins. This is a glam show that shouldn’t be missed. A great night of musical theatre.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Editor September 10th, 2017
Thank you Wendy - fixed now.
Wendy Riley September 10th, 2017
Thank you for your review, we are so glad your reviewer enjoyed the show.
Just a couple of corrections:
The actor who plays cop Eddie Souther is Matt McMenamin.
Like Monique Clementson, Matt is also a graduate of NASDA, as are many of our other performers in the show. Showbiz Christchurch is very fortunate to have a quite a number of performers in Sister Act who have studied and graduated from numerous performing arts schools and academies both in New Zealand and Internationally.
The full cast is on our website with links to individual performance biographies: https://www.showbiz.org.nz/sister-act-cast/
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