Sister Spectacular!

CBoyleDrama Productions

Glitz, glamour and an utterly fabulous performance greeted audiences from the first of December to the third as the students of Limavady Grammar School put on a show-stopping rendition of ‘Sister Act’, the grooviest musical around! It’s been three years since the school’s talented performers last had the chance to perform for a live audience and right from the outset it was clear they were ready to return to the stage with a bang.
Under the guidance of Claire Gordon (Director), Derek Collins (Musical Director), Zoe Kyte (Choreographer) and Richard Lee (Assistant Director) the young actors and actresses of LGS managed to put on a phenomenal show that was all-singing, all-dancing and guaranteed to put a smile on every face in the house – a house packed to bursting on all three nights with an audience who could hardly help but clap their hands and groove with the beat!

The performance opens during the height of disco in 1970s Philadelphia and an introduction to the glitzy disco queen Doris Carter, better known as Deloris von Cartier (as in Cartiers!) as she performs for her boyfriend, the sleazy gangster Curtis Jackson.

Surrounded by sequined backup dancers, Holly Deane’s natural style and flair for the glamourous helped her fit the role of Deloris like a glove and under the glittering lights of a disco ball, the opening number ‘Take Me to Heaven’ was a stylish start to the show that captured the attention of the audience from the outset.

Unfortunately for Deloris, her man was less than impressed. Played by Odhran Clenaghan, who expertly imbued the role with all the oiliness of a shady used car dealer and a mean streak a mile wide, the dastardly Curtis denied Deloris’ request to sing in his club (he clearly didn’t see the same performance I did!), prompting Deloris’ decision to leave him and strike out on her own with a rendition of ‘Fabulous Baby!’ which served as another fantastic reminder that Holly isn’t just a singer or a dancer, but both talents rolled into one! The energy she brought to each and every one of her numbers was thrilling to watch and I was continually impressed by her ability to portray both comedy and drama as the scene demanded.

However, our leading lady and dastardly villain weren’t the only casting successes in this performance. Every single one of the actors involved brought an energy and a life to their characters that was wonderfully infectious.

Deloris’ arrival at the Queen of Angels Church following her placement in witness protection was met by the stern Mother Superior played by Azura Rice, whose fantastic solo performance of ‘Here Within These Walls’ possessed a soulful purity that made her a superb foil to the more unrestrained Deloris. It’s not an easy job playing the stoic in such a lively cast and yet Azura captured the dry wit and growing frustration of a woman losing control of her world in a way that had us laughing one moment and emotional the next!

Likewise, casting for the rest of the nuns was similarly divine! Sister Mary Patrick and Sister Mary Lazarus played by Rhiann Guy and Mollie Hawthorne respectively had a natural comedic timing that had audiences rolling every time they opened their mouths. The sheer enthusiasm they put into playing an over-eager young nun and a crotchety old sister was a joy to watch, and the way they led ‘It’s Good To Be A Nun’ was a real laugh riot.

Then there was Sister Mary Robert played by newcomer Bella Kyte. What a talent! I was taken aback when I discovered that such a capable singer and dancer was a ‘mere’ first year and yet she holds her own amongst the more experienced cast members with a natural ease. The way she portrayed the transformation from mousy postulant to confident sister easily won the hearts of the entire audience and if her emotional performance of ‘The Life I Never Led’ is any indication, this is one actress to watch going forward!
So, given that the ladies of the cast are all show-stoppers, you might be anticipating that the men were the weak link of the show, right? Wrong! As mentioned earlier, Odhran does a fantastic job of playing Curtis Jackson as equal parts smooth and scheming and the reveal of his more murderous qualities in “When I Find My Baby” is equal parts entertaining and sinister.

And what villain would be complete without his loyal henchmen? Joey, Pablo and TJ, played by Daniel White, Boyd O’Neill and Oscar McMichael respectively, serve as Curtis’ woefully inept thugs and the self-important, overly confident swagger that oozed from their every action was a perfect fit for these Casanovas of Crime! Between the ‘fro picks, the patterned bellbottoms and the handlebar moustaches, they embodied the 70’s style and there were more than a few delighted ladies in the audience when they left to stage to get up close and personal for a decidedly flirtatious performance of ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’!

Leo Collins was equally impressive in the role of ‘Sweaty’ Eddie Souther, combining an endearing awkwardness with an impressive vocal range to give us a hero that the audience couldn’t help but root for. His costume change during ‘I Could Be That Guy’ was a particular highlight, but it was Leo’s soulful singing that ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Then there was Monsignor O’Hara, played by Cyprian Soczynski, whose appearance in a number of the ensemble performances allowed us to see some of the smoothest moves around. Playing a non-singing role in a musical performance can definitely be a challenge, but Cyprian pulled it off with aplomb – from the eager cheers during the final bows, he was a definite fan favourite!

Even the more minor roles were performed with the utmost enthusiasm. Isla O’Hara and Aoife McLaughlin did a fantastic job playing two of the kookier members of the convent, while Joshua Hunt played a suitably frightened victim to Curtis’ machinations as well as the officer putting him in cuffs! Meanwhile, Jay Lapsley did a great job pulling double duty as sequined showgirl and kindly waitress, while Matthew Donnell, Callum Pollock and Ethan Mullan made some notably unforgettable appearances – the bright pink dress was a particular highlight! All of this was topped off with a chorus that sang their hearts out and performed tightly choreographed dance moves with gusto, the smiles on their faces making it clear that they loved every minute of what they were doing. It says a lot about a show when every single member of the cast gives their all no matter how big or small their role may be, and LGS can count itself very lucky indeed to have such a eager pool of future talents to pick from.

After all that, what’s left to say? I could go on and on in my praise, mentioning, perhaps, the backstage crews who changed sets, managed props and took care of the sound and lighting without a hitch. I could mention the groovy costumes or how the makeup team flawlessly transformed fresh-faced teenagers into grizzled gangsters and wrinkled old women. I could mention, again, how the influences of both Director and Musical Director brought out the very best that the students had to offer, but at some point, a review does have to end!

Suffice it to say then, that ‘Sister Act’ really was a phenomenal effort from the students involved and a real joy to watch. They should all be incredibly proud of the effort that went into putting on such a fantastic show and I know that there are more than a few families in Limavady eagerly wondering just how LGS can possibly top a show like this.

I’m sure they’ll find a way. Bring on the next one!

📷 Amelia Silina and Mrs C Boyle