SISTER ACT The Musical

ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

25/11/2017 - 16/12/2017

Production Details



A woman hiding in a convent helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she rediscovers her own. This feel-good comedy smash is based on the hit film – Inspired by the Whoopi Goldberg smash-hit movie, SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL

SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL has all the glamour and energy that you should expect from a Broadway blockbuster – thrilling scenery, gorgeous costumes, snappy one-liners and heart-pumping dance numbers.

The feel-amazing musical comedy, SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL features all new original music by TONY and 8-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Beauty And The Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin).

SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL tells the hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look- a convent!

Under the suspicious watch of the Mother Superior, using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community but in doing so, blows her cover. Soon, the gang is giving chase only to find them up against Deloris and the power of her newly found sisterhood.

Produced by the Amici (Phantom of the Opera, Evita), this production will feature NZ Idol finalist Keshia Tunks in the lead role as Deloris. Driven, multi-talented and an ever-inspiring singer and songwriter, Keshia’s effervescent energy and charisma light up the stage.

Filled with powerful gospel music, outrageous dancing and a truly moving story, SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL will leave audiences breathless. A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL is reason to REJOICE!

ASB Waterfront Theatre
From 25 November – 16 December

DELORIS VAN CARTIER ................ Keshia Tunks
MOTHER SUPERIOR ..................... Helen Medlyn 
CURTIS JACKSON ........................ Matthew Cutts 
EDDIE SOUTHER ......................... Keith Marr 
MONSIGNOR O’HARA / ERNIE ....... Steve King 
SISTER MARY ROBERT ................. Sammie Campbell 
SISTER MARY PATRICK ................ Emma Leon 
SISTER MARY LAZARUS ............... Lynn Webster 
SISTER MARY THERESA ............... Nikki Kent 
TJ ..............................................Sean MacFarlane 
PABLO ........................................Gerard-Luke Malgas 
JOEY ......................................... David Mackie 
MICHELLE .................................. Kristin Paulse 
TINA ......................................... Kelly Harris 
POPE ......................................... Clive Dixon / Tim Carroll

Kerry Scurr, Charlie Helliwell, Olivia Garriock, Amber Dixon, Bridie Dixon, Katherine Cornish, Abby Doyle-Lissette, Vanessa Preston, Sarah Jayne Phillips, Ally McDonald-Bull, Tiffany Utama, Kristin Paulse, Kelly Harris, Lygia Verhoven, Lara Bottaro, Eric Ripley, Cameron Stables, Dave Torres

Carolyn Groen, Kirsten Darrell, Deehan Morgado, Tegan McKnight, Joanna Wood, Hannah Brown, Paula Cross, Cass Jenkins, Kathryn Roach 

SET & PROPS DESIGN:  John Harding 
COSTUME DESIGN:  Lesley Burkes-Harding


Theatre , Musical ,

Actors shine as Sister Act takes to stage

Review by Dione Joseph 28th Nov 2017

Twenty-five years ago, Whoopi Goldberg became an international sensation because of a low-budget-feel-good film called Sister Act. The story followed the adventures of a lounge singer, who unintentionally, becomes a witness to a murder by her gangster boyfriend.

The plot twist? To keep their star witness alive, the police stow the diva in the least likely of places: a rundown convent on the verge of closure. There she finds another calling, working with the tone-deaf choir (now as new recruit Sister Mary Clarence) to bring about some revelation in how they can musically share God’s message to their dwindling congregation. [More]  


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Nun better as an end-of year tonic

Review by Michael Hooper 27th Nov 2017

This affectionate, infectious tribute to the platform-shoe, well souled seventies is a plenary indulgence, perfect to celebrate the year’s end with fulsome, fabulous and frolicking harmonies, as disco lighting spangles the runway for an escape flight from reality. Despite a few self-conscious moments, this show is a helter-skelter, high energy hit.

The cleverly LED- and projection-enhanced set from lighting designer David Spark allows the physical space to remain uncluttered, creating dimension with smoky beams of light and leaving heaps of room for the dance and song numbers. Trolleys slide smoothly from the wings or from upstage and built pieces fly in effortlessly on cue. Take a bow, set designer John Harding and the stage team under technical manager Nik Janiurek, all directed capably by David Adkins.

The Sister Act movie was a take-off booster rocket for Whoopi Goldberg, who was the stage musical’s original producer. She was conscious that the recreation of her role as Deloris Van Cartier, the night club singer transplanted reluctantly into a convent for asylum, would be different in a stage musical than it was in the $230m film. This is largely because the musical form relies on removal from realty, while the movie needed true characters that could take a close-up and engage our empathy.

There’s no better example of this difference than role of Mother Superior, delivered rather deadpan in the movie by Maggie Smith, but oh, so ‘showbiz’ on stage by Helen Medlyn. Justifiably praised by the producers as a ‘national treasure’, she brings an almost panto energy to her portrayal and we can roll with it because this is not realism. Few New Zealand performers have her breadth of skills; at her disposal is every trick in the book, every technique, all topped with dazzling vocal dexterity. She delivers stand-up comedy one moment and sublime, full-voice high notes the next. Her heartfelt ‘Here Within These Walls’ is genuinely moving.

Of course the starring role is Deloris, sung by a newly discovered treasure (for this reviewer), Miss Keshia Tunks.  Her battery sparks on high voltage from lights on to lights off. Sultry, sexy and with a perfect sense of comic timing, she also energises the nuns’ chorus. Their harmonies and balance are heavenly.

At this point it is appropriate to acknowledge the wizardry of youthful musical director Zac Johns. A talented composer, as well as confident keyboard player (you may have marvelled at his ardour in The Phantom of the Opera at The Civic), he generates and coordinates the assembly of computer click-tracks and live keyboard, bass and drums to resurrect the Tavares sound of the mid-seventies, the slick soul side of the Tamla Motown machine.

Playing up to this seventies Detroit immersion, with more than a touch of Philly, are ‘The Gang’ of incompetent thugs: Sean McFarlane (TJ), Gerard-Luke Malgas (Pablo) and David Mackie (Joey). Just into Act 2, ‘Lady in The Long Black Dress’ gives them a chance to play with the period feel. Sean McFarlane has a mean falsetto in the Frankie Valli style, Mackie has the perfectly slick, slightly seedy moves, while Malgas is on an even higher level in personality, voice and sass.

Other stand-outs include Steve King who excels as the Monsignor – even sustaining a convincing Irish accent. Sr M. Patrick (Emma Leon) is irrepressible, postulant Sr M. Robert (Sammie Campbell) has a wonderful command of the Cameron Macintosh-favoured nasal style, and Lynn Webster invests considerable stagecraft and experience into Sr M. Lazarus.

Baby, there’s no shortage of ‘the three g’s: glitter, glamour and gay boys’ and certainly no lack of sequins as the nuns’ costumes get more and more outlandish. However, after the sequins, struts and spins, Deloris’ question, “What are you left with when the lights go out?” hangs hauntingly enough to imbue the zany plot with humanity. So, too, the Rev. Mother’s snide comment: “People have amused themselves to death.”

There are omissions and just a few opening night faults are apparent; radio mics are a minefield. An early comment by Deloris entering the convent, “What is it with all that smoke?” is a great chance to introduce some incense, or at least some of the smoke. The bar scene is short on atmosphere, and an old-fashioned slo-mo chaos sequence near the end is disappointingly uninventive.

Some of the acting is not up to the standard of the singing, perhaps due to the mix of paid and unpaid talent. However it really is about the music and the comedy, and in this the show excels.

The tight choreography that is so much part of the disco and Motown eras is superb, and Rhonda Daverne has drawn authentic and characterful moves from talented ensemble, for it is a group effort. With minor exceptions, the sound richness and balance is maintained – not easy with all those voices. Even with so few live players, the wall of sound, as the iconic Phil Spectre might have said, has very few bricks missing and this is again proof that this auditorium has been so well designed for so many formats.

If your reality has been ‘a bit of a downer’ this year, sit beneath the balcony Christmas tree at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, relive this Christmas 1977, and see the ‘sis’ put back into Genesis. Melt into carol mode, redeem your spirits and raise yourself to the rafters with the Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith. For an end-of year tonic, there could be nun better.


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