Divine comedy heading to the stage

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Members of Sister Act's nun ensemble (from left) Martha McSoriley, Ruth McSoriley, Katherine Edwards, Rachael Scott and Jacqueline Careswell.

INVERCARGILL Musical Theatre (IMT) is in the habit of staging beloved productions and this year is shaping up to be no exception.

The company will perform Broadway hit Sister Act at the Civic Theatre next month.

IMT vice-president Bernadette Gourley said everything was going really well, as the cast and crew prepare to pack into the theatre next week.

“Then it’s all fast and furious after that.”

Sister Act follows on from recent popular shows Grease, Mamma Mia, The Phantom of the Opera and Mary Poppins

The show is based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and is about singer Deloris Van Cartier, who has dreams of stardom. After being let down by her gangster boyfriend, who she thought was going to introduce her to a record producer, she witnesses a murder.

To escape being hunted down, she goes into hiding in a convent and teaches the nuns to sing.

“I guess this year we’re doing a show that is a little bit less well-known than previous years, but no less entertaining,” she said.

“Everyone’s having a really great time.”

An upbeat comedy, Gourley said there were lots of sequins, glitter balls, dancing nuns and fantastic music, written by Tony and Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beastand Aladdin).

Gourley said the stage show featured different music to the film. However, the cast would rate it as even better, she said.

“It’s very uplifting music and what may be a surprise for theatre-goers is it’s actually really funny.

“It’s the kind of show that people will be toe-tapping throughout and walk out with a great big smile on their faces.”

There would be some big dance numbers with the nuns, all singing and dancing at the same time.

“It’s very high-energy work especially when they’re wearing the nuns’ habits. The costumes are stunning – they won’t disappoint at all.”

Gourley said there were also some great comedy roles in the show, particularly its male principals.

“They may well just steal the limelight.”

All but two of the cast are local, with Christchurch-based performer Monique Clementson stepping into Van Cartier’s shoes.

“This role is a dream come true for her. She’s an avid movie fan and has watched Sister Act many times.”

Nick Purdie who played Bert last year in Mary Poppins, is also back playing the role of Eddie, a police station desk chief who helps Van Cartier go into hiding.

“It’s great to have [Nick] back down here in the south working with us again.”

Long-time IMT collaborator Stephen Robertson is directing the show.

“His vision is incredible and we are really fortunate that he chooses to work with us year after year,” Gourley said.

The musical director is Michael Buick, who has had a long involvement in IMT, Repertory and various other musical groups throughout Southland, she said.

The music would be performed by a mixture of a live band and prerecorded audio “click tracks” to take the place of some live instruments.

By the time the show opens on Friday, July 7, Gourley said the team would have been in rehearsals for 11 weeks.

“It’s a significant commitment from the cast and production team, but the reward is opening night. They get to perform in front of friends, family and the audiences who are always so appreciative.”

She said there were still some really good seats available for the show during its run.

“So all those people who haven’t got tickets better get in… Don’t miss out.”

Sister Act, Civic Theatre, July 7-22, 7.30pm. Matinee shows July 9 and 16, 2pm. Tickets available from the Invercargill City Council booking office and TicketDirect.

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