Review: RAOS’s Sister Act is happy, hilarious and vibrant
Apr 18, 2024

Lauren Crisp is a book editor, writer and keen follower of arts and culture. Born and raised in Harrogate, Lauren recently moved back to North Yorkshire after a stint in London, where she regularly reviewed theatre – everything from big West End shows to small fringe productions. She is now eager to explore the culture on offer in and around her home town.  You can contact Lauren on [email protected]

Ripon Amateur Operatic Society brought the house down at Harrogate Theatre last night with their take on the feel-good musical comedy, Sister Act.

Grace Knill assumes the role of sassy heroine Deloris van Cartier, a singer and wannabe star who is forced into hiding in a convent after witnessing a hit by her gangster boyfriend. Arriving to a frosty reception by the nuns’ stern Mother Superior (an excellent Rowenna Naylor), Deloris ultimately finds her purpose: to help the ladies learn how to sing.

Knill makes for a perfect Deloris; with joyful energy, she captures the humour and warmth of her character, belting out one showstopper after another with ease.

There are so many great personalities in this show, and the cast do them real justice, embracing their roles with gusto, providing a sense of warmth, familiarity and connection; audience members are drawn into the narrative easily.

Chris Wall as Deloris’ nasty ex, Curtis, and his trio of hilariously hapless gangsters, TJ (Luke Bailey), Joey (Will Thirlaway) and Pablo (Elliot Hutchinson), drew the biggest laughs, their choreography planned and executed to a T.

RAOS transport us to 1970s Philadelphia, with set, costume and sound combining to create an eruption of vibrant vivacity and fun on stage. John Atkin’s band sprinkle sparkle on the musical, with a good splash of soul and upbeat funk.

I had some difficulty hearing the occasional lyric early on, and many of the songs are appreciably tricky ones to sing, especially above a band, but any initial teething issues were swiftly ironed out. With banger after banger, you’re sure to come away feeling good.

A production filled with habits aplenty, gun-wielding gangsters, confession boxes and knockout showtunes, but mostly with colour, happiness and charm, the amateurs of Ripon know how to put on a show.

Sister Act is at Harrogate Theatre until Saturday, 20 April.

(Lead image: Helen Tabor Photography)

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