I'D DO Anything finalist Cleopatra Rey will take the lead role of sassy Deloris Van Cartier in York Stage Musicals' York premiere of Sister Act: The Musical at the Grand Opera House, York, from September 12 to 20.
Wannabe diva Deloris finds her life taking a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime, forcing the police to hide her in the last place anyone would think to look: a convent.
Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow singing sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own in a fabulously divine musical that is a sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship and girl power.
The show is based on the 1992 film that starred Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris and features a 1970s-inspired score by Alan Menken, composer of Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Little Shop Of Horrors.
Cleopatra, or Cleo as she is known by those around her, has had roles in West End and off-West End musicals, including Elizabeth in Dirty Dancing, and starred with Brian Conley in Brother Loves Travelling Salvation Show, directed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood.
Appearing in Sister Act: The Musical in York presents Cleo with a new challenge.
"I'm so excited to be working with a community cast who give up so much of their spare time and are so committed to this show," she says.
"As someone who knows how much work goes into creating and performing a role night after night as a full-time career, it’s an honour to work with people with so much drive and determination, who do this as a hobby and are so talented too. I can promise this show will be ‘Fabulous, Baby’.”
Among the familiar faces in the cast will be Julie-Anne Smith as the stern Mother Superior, as she follows up her glorious return to the York stage in May as Miss Hannigan in Annie! after a seven-year hiatus.
Joanne Theaker, a newcomer to YSM but no stranger to the professional stage, will play the timid Sister Mary Robert and YSM favourites Alicia Roberts and Sandy Nicholson have been cast as Sister Mary Patrick and Mary Lazarus respectively.
Further roles go to Mikhail Lim as Officer Lieutenant Eddie Souther, York stage regular Martin Rowley as Monsignor O’Hara and Joe Wawrzyniak as bad guy Curtis Jackson, whose goons will be played by Stuart Rey as Joey, Alex Dunn as TJ and Ashley Standland as Hispanic lothario Pablo. Ashley last appeared in the title role in YSM’s Phantom Of The Opera in February.
The production team is led by Nik Briggs, in charge of his first major show since taking over as artistic director from Robert Readman last year. “Sister Act is such an exciting show; people already know and love the story that was made famous by Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith in the early Nineties, and what the producers and writers have done is to evolve it to the next level.
"All the numbers are fantastic, from the toe-tapping disco numbers to the soulful ballads with a stop-off at Bee Gees and Drifters-inspired songs. This show really does have it all…. and just wait for the glittering finale.”
Alongside Nik on the production team are musical director Stephen Hackshaw and York Theatre Royal's Brummie pantomime favourite, AJ Powell, as choreographer. "It has been a pleasure to work with a company of such a professional standard," says AJ. "I feel very lucky to have been introduced to them and cannot believe the amount of hard work they've put into this show; it's definitely going to be spectacular.”
The wardrobe department is overseen by York designer Jo Keogh, who worked on the 2012 York Mystery Plays, 2013's Blood + Chocolate and York Stage Musicals' Phantom Of The Opera. For Sister Act, she is joined by a team of volunteers and is also working in conjunction with Dress Circle of York.
Performances will start at 7.30pm on September 12, 13, 15 to 18 and 20, 2.30pm on September 13 and 20 and 5pm and 8pm on September 19. Tickets can be booked on 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york