This is the 4th time I have seen a version of this show and whilst it has a catchy score and an interesting plot, based on the much loved movie, the structure has always felt rather flawed in its transference to the stage. Partly this is because, as writ, the gangster types, apart from Curtis, are written as real buffoons which completely takes away any threat towards Delores and therefore the need for her to hide away; and, of course, the wonderfully re-imagined songs of the movie were not allowed to be used.
That aside Southampton Operatic Society have, on the whole, captured the essence of the film and story and provided good entertainment in the form of excellent singing and choreography against a well thought out set.
As Delores, Susie Maycock is in top notch form both in energy and vocal talent. She has excellent stage presence with a warmth and passion that gives her Delores a sass and ‘vavavoom’ needed, the character barely being off stage. Very impressed with her throughout.
Matching her with vocal talent and great characterisation is Tina Adams as the Mother Superior. A difficult role which is elegantly played with just the right touch of humour, worry and faith confusion, balancing all these perfectly. Indeed all the Convent Nuns played their roles with energy and pure joy, Abi Jeffrey and Jo Barnard being particularly marvellous to watch. As Sister Mary Robert, Abi Jeffrey just caught the essence of this character so well, making her huge solo number even more emotional and wonderful.
Roger Lamb oozes smug creepiness as Curtis and gives credibility to a role that is written very one dimensional. His henchmen worked hard providing light comedic moments within the constraints of the script and all sung well. Dan Farrell was in good voice and character as Sweaty Eddie adding an extra layer to the relationship with Delores not often seen. Their scene at his flat was very well done.
Indeed the singing and quality of the band led by Nigel Finch were of excellent quality although the night I was there, some sound issues blocked hearing of words in the bigger numbers. I was also not completely at ease with the augmentation of the brilliant nuns chorus by male cast: it proved an unnecessary distraction as all the girls were so good and I am at a loss to understand the director’s decision for this. As first time director, Rachel Pike utilised the Nuffield stage well although some of the scene changes should have been better disguised. Seeing the crew strike set during songs completely destroyed the joy of listening to the performers.
The finale of Act 1 was a stand out, really and thoroughly enjoyed by all those sat around me too. Quite rafter uplifting.