Sister Act

Thank you to everyone who took part in, supported or came to see our hit musical production ‘Sister Act’. As ever it was a triumph and made us all so proud of the young people in our school. A huge thank you must go to Ms Stimson and all the staff who gave up so much time to make the show a success.

You can read Mr Hollis’s rave review here:

February is a cold, wet, dark month. Winter feels like it has been with us for ever. The rain has lashed us into soggy, miserable pulps and, with the forecast for half term set for a series of storms, it felt like, as Thirsk School Sixth Form College moved towards the holiday, there was a distinct need for something jolly and distracting to rejuvenate and revitalise. Fortunately the school’s production of ‘Sister Act’ did just that. In life there are few things as uplifting and joyful as gospel singing by large groups of young people. Add that to the infectious enthusiasm of this wonderful production, and there was a sure fire remedy for any winter blues.
Sister Act, as many of us will know from the film, is the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub singer who accidentally witnesses a crime and has to go into hiding. The improbable safe space that is chosen for her is a convent, inhabited by a set of unworldly, innocent, and hilariously tone deaf nuns. Deloris is given the task of working with the choir and, in an amazingly short space of time, turns it into a singing sensation that wows even His Holiness the Pope. In making this work on stage, huge credit needs to go to the principals. Madi Banthorpe channelled Whoopee Goldberg’s role of Deloris in a delightfully sassy manner. Her voice was incredible, her confidence and stage presence awe-inspiring, and this was definitely her part from the moment she walked on stage at the beginning. In contrast to Deloris’s brashness, you had Oona Webster Jones playing the ever-frustrated Mother Superior. Where Madi’s voice seemed made for the rock n roll of a cabaret stage, Oona’s had a choral purity to it that acted in strong contrast and worked perfectly for her more restrained musical pieces. Oona’s performance was extremely English, with a calm sense of contained annoyance that came straight out of a Richard Curtis comedy.
Curtis, the baddy of the piece, was played with delightfully measured cool and calm evil by Charlie Nicholson. Charlie’s voice is distinctive, mature and a pleasure to listen to, and he oozed slick street cred on stage. He deserved more boos than he got from the audience. His nemesis in the production, the frustrated and sweaty Eddie, played by Archie Turner, was equally strong. Archie perfectly portrayed the sense of a man who wanted more from everything, and his singing of ‘I could be that guy’ was one of the comedic and musical highlights of the show. Charlie was accompanied everywhere on stage by his three stooges- Ben, Toby and Jed, all of whom had a lot of fun with their respective roles and were hugely appreciated by the audience. All three of these henchmen were strong, but I particularly would like to single out Toby Nicholson, the youngest of the three, who never said a line without making me laugh. His performance was, for me, one of the highlights of the whole show, and is evidence, along with all other young members of the cast, of how much more we can expect from musical theatre at Thirsk over the next few years. In contrast our head boy Ben McLoughlin, at the other end of the age spectrum, was in his final performance on the Thirsk School stage. His song about trying to be cool in order to seduce a nun had the audience in stitches and was a worthy way of bowing out from musicals at the school.
In the convent we had a succession of Sister Marys, all played with distinction and humour. The first time they sang together properly (not the deliberate, tuneless caterwauling at the start of the production) gave me goosebumps, and all of them were clearly enjoying being on stage together. An ensemble like this is worth more than the sum of its collective parts, and these characters bounced off one another with skill and laughter. It was a pleasure to watch them, as it was all of the rest of the enormous, extended chorus. This was a massive production that seemed to have a huge percentage of the school’s students in it. Everybody involved played their part and should be thoroughly proud of their involvement.
And finally to the staff. Productions like this take hundreds of hours to prepare, and they are prepared in evenings and at weekends, when friends, family and other things beyond work should be calling us. Nic Stimson has, yet again, given everything she has to produce a show of stand out quality. This was the funniest school musical I have ever seen, and that is due to her deft preparation of the students in their line delivery. Similarly Owain Pierce-Williams is an indefatigable pillar of strength behind his keyboard, directing a faultless band that allowed the singers to deliver with confidence and ability. Not all schools put on productions like this. If it wasn’t for the work of Nic, Owain, and the many others behind the scenes, then we couldn’t do it either. February may be a cold, wet and dark month but, for the students involved in this production, and for the audience watching it, the sogginess was alleviated with a couple of hours of pure joy. It was something for every resident of Thirsk to be proud of.