National Operatic & Dramatic Association London Region
First of all, Berkhamsted Theatre Company, welcome to London Region and I can safely say that if this show is typical of the high standards you set yourselves, and reach, than I am really looking forward to your two 2016 productions – I Love you You’re Perfect, Now Change in April and Evita in the
Autumn. Well done for publicising both in your programme too – the sooner your audience is made aware of your next show the better.
Sister Act, flawlessly directed by Peter Dodsworth and your MD, Graham Thomson, was a joy from start to finish. David McMinn’s choreography resulted in smooth movements and routines at all times. Your Production Manager, Ruth Salsbury, also produced a well laid out programme with good
photographs. It was attractive and informative – but do proof read carefully. Should it be Mark Bower or Mark Bowers – I assume this is the same man? Also, your mention of NODA is slightly misleading because I don’t think we aim ‘To give a shared vice to the amateur theatre sector’ do we? Stage Manager, Andy Kennett, and his crew slickly and seamlessly transformed the scenes from slightly sleazy nightclub to various scenes in the convent.
The sets, designed by Ian Selinger and constructed by Ian with Andy Kennett, David Kennett, Paul Roxan, Mark Bower, Kara Malone and Kim Rodger were excellent. The painting of the windows in the convent were especially good – congratulations to Grizelda Hafter, Kim Rodger and Floss Hafter for these artistic touches. Using the front corners of the stage for the police station and the convent office worked very well. Lighting, designed by Chris Cooper and assisted by Paul Roxan was excellent and added so much to the production. The lighting of the police station and office was notably good and focussed our attention on these areas. Sound, Nick Cooper assisted by Mark Bowers, was excellent with very good balance between band and
singers. The eleven strong Band under your MD was situated underneath the seating, which I had not seen at this venue before. This worked well and you can be congratulated on having good musicians to call on.
Props, Roger Hester, were, on the whole, all good and appropriate. I did feel that a modern newspaper which appeared to be advertising Channel 4, was not quite right though. Costumes, most of which were obviously hired in, were, in general, really excellent. Presumably, Gisele Yoh-Fowles sourced them all but again, just one slight quibble, Deloris’s first costume. The top looked to be far too short as when she turned around we got a good view of the top of her tights. Had the frill been just slightly longer it would have looked sexier!
Make up and wigs, no credit in the programme, but just a couple of comments. Deloris’s heavy makeup contrasted very well with the lighter make up used on the nuns which meant that she stood outsuccessfully as a most unlikely looking nun. The trouble with Sister Act is that your audience is goingto associate Whoopi Goldberg with the character so you have to make a white actress stand out in the way you did. Well done. The wigs worn by Tina and Michelle were not very good I am afraid which was a pity. Once other small point, one of your ‘Altered Boys’ was sporting what looked like a very
large white stud earring – I was told afterwards that this was a patch covering his complex ear stud – but you needed to look at it under stage lights and add some darker makeup to the disc.
Deloris, played by Nicki Jones, was really first class. Nicki, you sang well, maintained a very good accent throughout and were completely believable in the part. Many congratulations on your performance.
I see from the programme notes that Pippa Taylor and Lucy Marshall, who played Tina and Michelle, Deloris’ backing singers, are new to BTC; you were both very believable and you reacted well to the others in the nightclub scene, after which you became two of the ensemble nuns. I am sure you will
both be a great asset to the Company in future productions. What can I say about the assorted Sister Marys – over twenty of you? You were all excellent, singing very well and acting and reacting to what was going on around you all the time. Your movements were good too. One or two of you were singled out in the programme because you had the odd line to speak or sing or action to perform, such as Lauren Shephard as the very dotty Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours, and jolly Sister Mary Patrick, Lisa Fitzgerald, Sister Mary Theresa Cupcake, Joy Hester and ousted choir leader, the presumably tone deaf Sister Mary Lazarus, Gisele Yoh-Fowles. You were all totally in character all the time and provided an object lesson in how to be one of the ensemble, concentrating and reacting very well to what was happening in each scene – very well done. I think that at one point a chair may have been left on stage in error but it was sorted out by one of the nuns very efficiently.
Sian Marshall gave us a feisty Mother Superior with a dry sense of humour which you put over very well. Your solos were very well sung and acted and you too were in character all the time. A very good performance indeed.
The ‘baddie’, Curtis, played by Stephen J Davies, really looked and sounded the part. Your accent was
excellent by the way.
Your sidekicks Joey, Austin Marshall, thick nephew TJ, Chris Williams, and Pablo, Ash Copeland added humour in a very realistic way. Pablo’s outbursts in Spanish sounded just right – not sure if they were in Spanish or not, but they sounded fine to me.
Hannah Vessey portrayed the postulant, Sister Mary Robert, as a young innocent girl very well and your solo, ‘The Life I Never Led’, was well, and tunefully, sung.
Iain Fowles played Monsignor O’Hara as a serious priest with a twinkle in his eye, and your facial expressions and reactions left us in no doubt that you had no qualms about bending the rules to save the convent and the church.
Policeman Eddie Souther, James Yank, sang and acted well. Your transformation in ‘I Could Be That Guy’ was very cleverly done.
The two Altered Boys, Dom Byrne and Robbie Owens, leapt around very energetically, but see my note about make up re: the ear ring for future reference.
There were two small ‘bit’ parts well played by Ben Harris – your Drag Queen was very good by the
I really enjoyed your production and was so impressed by the high standards you all achieved. I do
hope that you will ask me back to report on your next production.
Regional Rep NODA London 11 and 11A