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Sister Act, Centre Stage Company - Haverhill

Sister Act as a show, is a joyous one and has an uplifting storyline and fantastic toe tapping music, so it always promises to be a good evenings entertainment.


This was our first visit to Haverhill Art Centre and despite the lack of Front of House staff on our arrival, the main auditorium was a pleasant surprise.  We were shocked that no one was selling programmes etc but maybe we just missed them.


The set worked well. It's not clear from the programme whether this was made in-house or designed externally & hired in, but certainly the stain glass windows at the back where a triumph.


The show itself after a somewhat slow and shaky start began to show what a great script and engaging score Sister Act has. 


It's always tricky following in the footsteps of the likes of Whoopi Goldberg because of the high expectations from such a monumental role but Em Robshaw, playing the main role of Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clement brought energy and the right sort of personality for this larger-than-life character.  It was clear she had strong vocals and although got a little lost in some of the larger numbers, she did a good job as this is such a demanding part for a leading lady. I particularly liked her rendition of ‘Sister Act’ in Act Two.


Playing opposite her as Sweaty Eddie was James Jefferies, who showed good understanding of the character and the shy personality of the lovelorn policeman.  particularly in his number ‘I Could be that Guy’, his gentleness and charm came across very well. 


The main nuns comprised Victoria Robson as Mary Patrick, Jacqui Player as Mary Lazarus and Lara Gray as Mary Robert.  All were clearly defined characters and came across extremely well on stage. Jacqui, in particular had a great stage confidence and Lara showed the quiet side of the unsure young postulant who grew more curious after her friendship with Deloris with a lovely rendition of ‘The Life I never Led’.

Victoria Carey as Mother Superior had a calming and serene stage presence with particularly strong vocals and her rendition of ‘I Haven't got a Prayer’ was one of the highlights of the show with a great command of the stage, and she worked the audience well.


Curtis, Joey, TJ and Pablo (Graeme Johnston, Charlie Jones, James Player and David Smithet respectively) all worked hard on their characterisations, but it was David Smithet as Pablo who particularly caught my eye, not just for the red shoes, but because he embodied the sleazy Spanish Lothario side of Pablo to a tee. 


I was disappointed however in the costumes, it is really unacceptable for Nuns to be flashing bare legs up to the thigh, and with habits of varying lengths and ranging types of footwear from heavy boots, to modern trainers to high heeled T-bar shoes the look was very distracting. Also, when in their pyjamas you could clearly see sparkly earrings in their ears of quite a number of the nuns as well as at least one in pale pink sequinned slippers.  As mentioned in the show the nuns are made to give up all their worldly goods when entering the convent but clearly some of these nuns hadn't abided by this discipline!  The only jewellery they should be wearing is a wedding ring to symbolise their marriage to Christ. It is the little details that take a good show to an outstanding show.


The show itself came into its own in the large chorus numbers, when the choreography and singing showed the society and the show at its best and I really enjoyed both ‘Take me to Heaven’ and ‘Sunday Morning Fever’ as the routines where together and vocally strong.


It was sad that the technical side struggled so much throughout the show with missed lighting and sound cues and mics left on while cast were talking off stage but this was opening night and we have to remember while the cast and production team get months to rehearse, the technical and stage crew only usually get perhaps a tech and dress to put it all together so I'm sure this side of the show will improve as the run progresses. 


The band under the skilful baton of Karen Chinery was tight, with the perfect sound level and a joy to listen to.


There is so much about this show to like, and it was evident that the whole cast were enjoying themselves tremendously and put their heart and soul into the show. I wish them the very best for the rest of the run and for future productions.


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