This production is based on the 1992 motion picture originally starring Whoopi Goldberg. The music was written by the prolific Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater. The original setting of the film was San Francisco in 1990s and for this production it has changed to Philadelphia in the 1970s, which enabled the musical score to develop particularly in the gospel and disco eras. The show was blest with a live band of very technically competent musicians which certainly enhanced the overall experience. A nice touch before the show started was having the nuns hand out the programmes.
The storyline is based around gangster’s moll, Deloris Van Cartier (played admirably by Karina Thomlinson) who attempts to audition for a spot in her boyfriend’s nightclub. She fails at this and decides to break up with him, but then accidentally sees him commit a murder. This puts her life in danger, and she goes to the police who decide to hide her in a convent and as the story progresses, we learn of the relationships that develop between Deloris and all the nuns within the convent, and the culture-clashes that these entail.
Directed by Thom Copestake, with Musical Director Ed Nurse, the whole cast of this production were absolutely superb, there were no weak links anywhere on the stage. It is impossible to name and highlight all the cast members, but they can all feel proud of the contribution they have made to an excellent show. I must however single out Tina Spiers performance as the Mother Superior. She gave the character the gravitas required when appropriate and then excelled in changing to a modern and up to date leader of the nuns.
The male characters all played their parts well and the Nun’s Chorus was excellent without exception. I was particularly impressed with their ability to start off as an out of tune chorus line and progress to an upbeat and with-it ensemble. There were a number of musical highlights for me; I loved Deloris and the Nuns singing “Take me to Heaven” and Daisy Nicholson as Sister Mary Robert singing “The life I never led” but having said all that I have to say that the whole production as an absolute masterpiece.
This has been my first experience of an East Cheshire production and it certainly won’t be the last, in fact I enjoyed this show so much that I have bought tickets for my wife and I to watch it again later in the week. It was only when I looked at the Past Productions section the programme that I discovered they have been in existence since 1910! If you get chance to see one of their productions (and they are doing Guys & Dolls next year), I heartily recommend that you go along, you will not be disappointed.
I cannot give this show anything but five stars as to me it was faultless.
Playing until 30th April, https://theeastcheshires.co.uk/
Reviewer: David S Clarke
Reviewed: 26th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★