Mayfield Dinner Theatre
(Doubletree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton)
16615 109 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Tickets: mayfieldtheatre.ca, or 780.483.4051
April 9 to June 9, 2019
Review by GRAHAM HICKS Hicksbiz.com
How satisfying, and rare, to have a full-on, no-holds-barred musical - a full 10-person choir, seven supporting musical actors, a five-person band, 11 backstage designers/technicians - on a stage outside of the Jubilee Auditorium.
Sister Act has to be one of the most ambitious shows mounted at the mid-sized Mayfield Dinner Theatre in recent years – at least since 2014’s Hairspray.
Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg’s runaway hit movie by the same name in 1992, the plot is well known - a mobster’s nightclub-singer ex-girlfriend is hidden by police in a Catholic church/convent, where she proceeds to turn the God-awful choir of nuns into the hottest gospel singers in the country.
The “choir” within the play is the great appeal of Sister Act.
Director Jim Guedo has brought together a cross-section of the city’s top female vocal/acting talent – Jill Agopsowicz, Christine Bandelow, Cathy Derkach, Michelle Diaz, Susan Gilmour, Pamela Gordon, Andrea House, Jameela McNeil, Gianna Read-Skelton along with leading Canadian musical actor Katrina Reynolds in Whoopi’s role as Deloris Van Cartier.
While the singing is strong throughout Sister Act – kudos especially to “Sweaty Eddie” Aadin Church for several of his solo turns – it’s the metamorphosis of the sweet, bumbling, so off-key nuns into the hottest gospel group in North America that’s central to the show.
All do an excellent job in this department – catching and riding the fun/excitement within the Broadway score, the blazing vocal harmonies, Bandelow’s choreography, The unsung five-person band behind the curtains pumping out the beat.
Reynolds, as the lead character Deloris, is at her best when she’s the lead singer/performer with the Queen of Angels ensemble (the nuns) as her back-up singers.
Equally fun are the Seven Dwarf-like characters of the nuns themselves, revealed between tunes. Each of their names start with “Sister Mary”, the shy one (Agopsowicz), the ditzy (Derkach), the optimist (Diaz), the ancient (House), the cynic (Gordon) … with Mother Superior (Gilmour) doing her best to maintain decorum.
Sister Act takes a while before kick-starting - the preamble leading up to Deloris’s joining the sisters is slow-moving. But the show jumps into top gear once Deloris has the nuns rock ‘n’ rolling like there’s no tomorrow.
It gets cheeky as the silly but enjoyable cops/robbers/get-thee-to-a-nunnery plot unfolds. In director Guedo’s version, a few of the chase scenes take on Pink Panther-ish overtones, while a few other famous movie scenes are referenced, such as the “No, I’m Spartacus” scene from Kirk Douglas’ 1960 epic film of the same name.
Roast beef, a mac ‘n’ cheese bar, with an overall very good buffet followed by the fun, slapstick, and beautiful multi-part singing: Sister Act, at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre through June 9, 2019, is a good night out.
Just announced, The Mayfield Dinner Theatre’s 2019-20 season;
Million Dollar Quartet, September 3 to October 27, 2019 – inspired by an evening when Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley gather at Sun Records in Memphis.
Class of ’63, A Rockin’ Reunion, November 5, 2019 to January 26, 2020.
Noises Off, universally acknowledged as “the funniest farce ever written”, returns to the Mayfield February 4 to March 29, 2020.
April 7 to June 7, 2020 – a rock musical to be announced in May 2019 - I’m guessing the 2009 Broadway “Big Hair” musical, Rock of Ages.
The return of Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story, June 16 to August 2, 2020, honouring the 60th anniversary of Holly’s death in an airplane crash.