SISTER ACT The Musical

Opera House, Wellington

14/09/2016 - 24/09/2016

Production Details

This Broadway stage version of the movie which starred Whoopi Goldberg will be presented by Wellington Musical Theatre who brought to the Wellington public Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia

The story is centred in Philadelphia Christmas 1970 when disco diva wannabe Deloris Van Cartier sees her gangster boyfriend, Curtis Jackson, commit a murder at the grungy club where she’s performing. After reporting the crime to the police, Deloris is placed in the witness protection programme disguised as a nun, named Sister Mary Clarence, in the convent of the Holy order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith. 

Using her singing talent Deloris inspires the other nuns to create a more contemporary choir, and they become the hit of the community. Word of their success reaches Curtis and his mob arrive at the convent to settle their score with Deloris. A battle ensues including a gang of feisty nuns and Mother Superior. 

Feel good entertainment at its very best – don’t miss this one

The Opera House, Wellington

14 – 24 September 2016
Details and tickets here

Deloris Van Cartier – Lahleina Feaunati
Mother Superior – Stephanie Gartrell
Sister Mary Robert – Jess Old
Sister Mary Patrick – Tania Dreaver-Parker
Sister Mary Lazarus/Michelle – Rochelle Rose
Tina – Annah Casey-Solly
Eddie – Joe Mara
Curtis – Richie Rewa
Joey – Ben Emerson
TJ – Jonathan Morgan
Pablo – William Deane
Monsignor O’Hara – Lloyd Scott
Ernie – David Bond
Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours – Mary Kuresa
Sister Mary Theresa – Erica Ward 

Nuns and Ensemble:
Adele Child, Anna Dahya, Annie O’Connor, Bethany Petrovich, Jennifer Howes, Jessica Clough, Natalie Wilson, Nick Swan, Sarah Riceman, Taylor Scott, Tiffany Anderson, Zoë George

Backing Vocalists:
Alice Russell, Beth Noble, Celia Macdonald, Madeline Whyte

Altar Boys:
Evan Davies, Nathan Parker, Sam Satterthwaite, Solomon Emet 

Pope Paul VI - Rex Da Vanzo

Producers – Wellington Musical Theatre
Executive Producer – Michael Highsted
Director – John JG Goddard
Musical Director – Michael Nicholas Williams
Choreography – Stacey Neale
Stage Manager – Jennifer Petrovich
Lighting Design – Dave Sparks /Tom Tom Productions
Lighting Equipment supplied by – Jeff Hewitt / Metro Productions
Lighting Operator – Jordan O’Neil / Metro Productions
Sound Design – Adrian Watts
Sound Operator – James Woods
Mic Desk Operator – Adrian Johns
Audio Visual Support – Sam Johnston / Multi-Media Systems Ltd
Head Mechanist – Neil Benseman
Flymen – Kieran Gunn, Nathan Ormsby
Wardrobe Manager – Terry Guillemot 

Dressers – Avril Da Vanzo, Chris Stratford, Crystal Easton, David Trott, Jacci Keeble, John Copeland, Jan Bower, Lesley Udy, Libby Dearnley, Rex Da Vanzo, Rowena Goddard, Sharee Cavanaugh, Susanna Masni

Stage & Props Crew – Adee MacLean, Alistair Alcock, Andy Schultz, Bruce Keeble, Conal McKone, Karen Jones, Raewyn Mills, Rob MacLean, Russell Turner, Tony Stratford

Hair & Make-Up Artists – Natalie Young, Sanchia Reed
Assisted by WELTEC Students – Neida Simeona, Veronica Zhou, Aleina Arthur, Molly Wright, Aoife Baker 

Social Media Manager – Ivy Padilla
Videography – Jack O’Donnell
Advertising Graphics – Morgan Hancock / Razz Print & Design
Programme Concept – Nick Swan
Programme Design – Mat Wilson
Programme Printing – Pivotal+Thames Limited 
Photography – Gareth Davies 

Theatre , Musical ,

A polished performance

Review by Ewen Coleman 15th Sep 2016

There is something quite exhilarating about seeing a group of nuns on stage fast-footing it to rock music and singing their lungs out, which is what, for the first-half anyway, much of Wellington Musical Theatre’s production of Sister Act is.

A high-octane production where director John Goddard and his team of Michael Nicholas Williams as musical director and Stacey Neale as choreographer have pulled out all the stops to make it a fast-flowing show about nightclub singer Deloris van Cartier (Lahleina Feaunati) and her encounter with a group of nuns in the convent of the Queen of the Angels. [More


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Hits all the right spots

Review by Maraea Rakuraku 15th Sep 2016

A fascination for nuns, whether on screen or stage, doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. The Producer, Michael Highsted recognises this, profiling a timeline of nuns who have hit the stage and big screen since the 1960s in the programme. For those raised in the 90s there’s none more recognisable than the Whoopi Goldberg-driven movie of the same name, set in the 1970s.

Showgirl Deloris Van Cartier (Lahleina Feaunati) is passing her nights singing in a nightclub owned and operated by her very married and neglectful boyfriend, Curtis (Richie Rewa). She doesn’t want for much. Singing is where it’s at for her until she inadvertently witnesses Curtis killing someone. Panicked she reports this to the Police, now led by a former childhood friend, Eddie (Joe Mara). A plan is agreed upon to hide her, for her own protection, in a place where no-one would ever look for her – in a convent. And so, Sister Mary Clarence is born.

The arrival leads to a crisis of faith for the Mother Superior (Stephanie Gartrell), who is very accepting and content with the current order. But the church, within a neighbourhood that ain’t what it used to be, has hit hard times and a diminishing church roll. And the only one who seems to be cognisant of this and what’s required for the churches future sustainability is Monsignor O’Hara (Lloyd Scott).

Enter Deloris balking at the restrictions, ‘Here Within These Walls’.  But soon both she, the nuns and even a rather reluctant Mother Superior acclimatise.

The sass Deloris directs towards Mother Superior is so even-tempered and respectful, it doesn’t veer towards the obvious tussle for power that was evident in the movie. Instead the struggle suffered by Mother Superior is very inner. That soon becomes external as Curtis learns of where she is; ‘When I find my Baby’.

Sister Act, The Musical pays homage to 70s music and Television shows. The riffs and dance moves complemented by the set (John Harding) and costumes (Lesley Burkes-Harding) are recognisably, undeniably, fantastically 70s.

Special mention to Curtis’s goons, Joey (Ben Emerson), TJ (Jonathan Morgan) and Pablo (William Deane) who are so entertaining, they threaten to upstage everyone else. But of course, they can’t because the nun’s exposure to the outside world – beautifully evoked by Sister Mary Robert (Jess Old) in ‘The Life I Never Led’ – is where the emotional heft of the story is. Sister Mary Clarence/ Deloris has affected them and by the final numbers it’s apparent they have affected her: ‘Sister Act, Bless our Show’.  

Lloyd Scott as Monsignor O’Hara seems to float across the stage. He embodies his role so completely I’m wondering if he’s actually going to make it to his all night stint at Radio NZ. Thank you Joe Mara, as ‘Sweaty Eddie’ who even hams it up, (to the audience joy), at final curtain.  

But of course Sister Act, The Musical is – as it was for the movie – the vehicle for the actor playing Deloris and here Lahleina Feaunati absolutely shines. When her voice hits the high register, it has such sweetness I want more.

From the setting and all its many smooth transitions, and the costuming to the script and, of course, to the music, this is a fantastic quality production. It is completely absorbing and entertaining.  

There’s only so many times I can describe the singing as gorgeous; the harmonising is so very lovely. What lets it down, which could be due to opening night ‘technical issues’, is minor feedback and then ‘rustling’ issues with sound. At one stage when a microphone seems to go dead, to her credit the nun still busts it out.  

Partly through Act 1, I realise the smile has not left my face. There’s something very uplifting about this production, which of course is the story, but also the performers themselves, whom I marvel at. How powerful it must be to stand on stage, as your character in that moment, and tell that story, stretching your lungs to the heights of the theatre. That takes control and a real understanding of your artistry.

By the Act 2 they’ve all relaxed into it. And it seems like they’re having a good time which means we are too. The audience is interactive and involved and whoops are spread throughout many of the performances especially the solos with ensemble pieces: ‘I Could Be That Guy’; ‘Fabulous Baby’.

When Deloris ‘confesses’ to her real identity – “I’m not really a nun [beat], I’m not really a Catholic” – she elicits a huge belly laugh from those around me. But actually, so much of the scripting does. And what I do enjoy, is hearing the phrasing. There’s no rushing. The wording doesn’t drop out and there’s no falling out of accent. (Having attended musicals in the Opera House where that has happened before, I understand the disservice it does to the performer and your resulting enjoyment when this happens.) 

Towards the end there’s even a ‘Jake the Muss’ moment.

Over the next 13 days there’ll be some depth gained which is just the natural course of a production’s run. Respect to the cast and crew for sustaining a season of that duration.  

Sister Act, The Musical hits all the right spots. It’s funny. It’s entertaining. Getsome.


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