Watching a group of teenage girls from a famously strict single sex Catholic school in a moderately leafy London suburb take on Sister Act as their annual School Production last night was fantastically reassuring. The world is a happy place, anything is possible and life is beautiful. The way these girls tackled Catholic clichés and male peacocking with age-defying expertise and joyous flair was light years away from their usual conservatively uniformed image. Every look, every mannerism was a pleasure to behold, but at the same time left nobody in any doubt that this level of effortless elegance must have taken a lot of effort indeed. Every Monday and Tuesday night for the last four months amount of effort to be precise.
Several girls depicting main characters came across as truly outstanding actors, more than capable of giving West End performers run for their money. My personal favourites, plural, as it is impossible to single out just one person, were, in no particular order;
Mary Robert, the postulant nun, for her blasting rendition of The Life I Never Lived, which sent shivers down my spine and left my husband a blubbering mess;
Deloris for her incredibly mature acting skills which allowed her to convey the singer’s vulnerability in a gentle and tender way;
Joe, TJ and the Spanish Guy trio for priceless comical touch and an insightful mockery of a pathetic male bravado;
Mother Superior for making the character her own, solemn, dignified and deeply human. Who’s Maggie Smith again?
Curtis, Deloris’s gangster boyfriend, for making the whole audience do a double take and think, ‘I thought it was a girls only production?’ Personally, I am still inclined to believe that he was a he from a neighbouring boys’ school, and not a she, despite my daughter’s assuring me of the latter. His swagger, his gangster drawl, his ill-fitting suit were just so convincingly male!
Sweaty Eddie, for his show-stealing solo piece, by far most amazing piece of showmanship I have ever seen a schoolgirl attempt before.
Mary Patrick, for perfect nervous giggle sounding exactly like the film version. Uncanny.
Mary Lazarus, for the rap to end all nun raps.
The second nun in the third row up on the right hand side of the stage for being the best, most convincing, most beautiful member of any nun chorus ever. Yes, she is my daughter, how did you guess?
The only regret, and it is a big one, is that the show carrying this amount of exhilarating joy and vibrant energy should be confined to such strict time and space-constrained life span. Three nights in the school hall is a good warm-up, but this production begs to be shown to larger audiences, so it can be celebrated on the scale it deserves. It would be worth calling Royal Drury Lane for any last minute stage availability. These girls are West End ready.