The following is the public section of the show critique for our production of Sister Act, by AIMS Adjudicator, John Grayden:
One of the great joys of this job is seeing how different societies cope in adverse circumstances. Castlerea, in the west of Roscommon and closer to the borders of Galway and Mayo than the county town, is one such musical society.
With the small town stripped of both the old cinema and the night club that previously hosted the group's shows, the company take over a sports hall in an unprepossessing industrial estate on the eastern edge of the town a week before opening night and turn it into a mini-theatre.
Like some of their western counterparts they have to build a stage and import essentials such as lighting trusses. The end result in this particular case was a decent playing space in a comfortable auditorium named The Hub which pulled in full houses for Colin Hughes' upbeat version of this feel-good tale of rags to riches set against the background of a gangland murder.
This was a production that benefited greatly from the excellent support of Shane Farrell's eight-piece pit band which backed the actors perfectly without drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.
Choreographer Patricia McDermott had drilled the chorus in her 70s-inspired routines while chorus mistress Heather Shine had also put in a considerable amount of graft with the ensemble. The work of both ladies ensured that the nuns were sure of foot and note and as a result, thoroughly enjoyed themselves onstage.
The heroine of the piece, Linda Murray, was an all-action big-voiced Deloris Van Cartier who morphs from a gangster's girlfriend to the saviour of the run-down Philadelphia parish of Mary, Queen of the Angels, inveigling her new found sisters into Sunday Morning Fever along the way with her showbiz wiles.
Majella Flanagan was a haughty Mother Superior who took an instant dislike to the interloper in her ranks while Ivan Moran's Monsignor O'Hara was by turns dejected and enthusiastic as the cards were stacked firstly against and then dramatically for him and Niall Heaney a soft-hearted Eddie Souther.
Daniel Doherty gave gang boss Curtis a believable edge while David Cooke was his comically dim lieutenant TJ, part of a rat pack that included Aidan Flanagan as the mumbling Latino Pablo and Stephen Fagan as ladies' man Joey.
Julie Connolly as Sister Mary Robert blossomed from the shy postulant to a more worldly wise adult who would defy her Superior while Caroline Madigan invested Sister Mary Patrick with giddy humour and a mellow mezzo voice and Francis Cooke was a gravelly voiced Sister Mary Lazarus, an old groaner who discovered the joys of rap music.