Harrogate Operatic Players sparkle in Sister Act

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Review by Cameron Paterson

Sister Act, Harrogate Operatic Players, Harrogate Theatre

Harrogate Theatre drew a lively crowd for the Tuesday night opening of Sister Act by the Harrogate Operatic Players.

The Players are one of the stalwarts of the Harrogate drama scene, having been founded as long ago as 1924.

They were one of only a handful of amateur groups in the country to be given permission to stage this impressive, cinematic show.

Based on the successful 1992 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act tells the story of Deloris, a night club singer in 1970s Philadelphia.

One day she accidentally witnesses her gangster boyfriend Curtis shoot an informer and flees, taking refuge in a convent.

There Deloris chafes against the restrictions of convent life but gradually transforms the lives of the nuns around her with her musical talents.

When her past finally catches up with her Deloris finds herself torn between her new friends and old life.

For an amateur show this production comes with an impressive amount of polish, from the rich costumes and atmospheric sets right through to the confident twinkle of the performers as they stride across the stage, clearly enjoying every moment in the limelight.

Live musicals demand a lot from the actors who perform them. They need to do more than learn their lines and hit the rafters with their delivery like actors in a play – they also have to master the complex footwork and precise movements of the choreography and hit every note of long and demanding songs.

The entire cast of Sister Act managed this with aplomb, filling the theatre, belting out the tunes, dancing across the stage and inhabiting the vivid characters with deft assurance and I have little doubt that everyone in the back rows had as good a time as those in the front rows.

It is clearly a show to which the group has devoted months of careful work and long rehearsal hours.

As the show winds to a close, the energy level increases still further and the night ends in a cascade of sparkle and song.

I am not a regular viewer of musicals by any means but even I could not help but be caught up in all the spotlit joie de vivre before me on stage.

HOP’s Sister Act:The Musical runs at Harrogate Theatre up to and including Saturday, June 13.

Tickets are available at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk