South Downe Musical Society strut their stuff at (air conditioned!) Ferneham Hall this week with Sister Act and hats off to director Helen Stoddart, for this cynical old heart had its cockles warmed.
The first act lacks some spirit and oomph, but that, I suspect, is a fault of the script. Act two, however, lets rip with humour, action and astonishing ensemble vocals.
Jane Pegler’s traditionalist Mother Superior is great contrast to the rebelliousness around her. Her delivery of the Sondheim-esque I Haven’t Got A Prayer is amusing and tragic. Danielle Cox is a ballsy Sister Mary Roberts and Emily Rennicks a wonderfully batty Sister Mary Patrick – but all of them should give reverence to Peta Reading whose Sister Mary Lazarus is a creation of genius.
The ridiculously large vocal-range demanded by the score seems like a walk in the park to the impressive Ben Horner whose voice both rumbles and soars. Matt Sackman, Ed Chase and Paul Goldthorpe make a great trio of bumbling baddies, headed by Steve Reading as the murderous lover of our heroine, Deloris.
Ah, yes. Deloris. Marlene Hill is a vocal revelation giving full voice, and doing full justice, to the up-tempo score.
Absolutely worth a visit