SHANKLIN Theatre played host to some evangelistic entertainment, when the Island Savoyards presented Sister Act the Musical, in front of sold-out congregations over the bank holiday weekend.

The opening scene witnessed protagonist, aspiring singer Deloris Van Cartier, played by the wonderful Iona Fraser, audition her new song, aptly named Take Me to Heaven, for the benefit of a smattering of sleazy dive bar attendees.

Most prominent among spectators is her ne’er-do-well beau Curtis Shank (Ben Spurling), whom she inadvertently witnesses murder a suspected informant.

Thereafter a cat and mouse narrative ensues, with the vivacious Van Cartier eventually receiving refuge in the unlikely bosom of a local convent, posing as Sister Mary Clarence.

This unfolds at the behest of childhood friend and budding suitor, Eddie Souther (Nathaniel Meller), now the timid chief of police struggling to shake off the long-time unwanted epithet Sweaty Eddie.

Mother Superior reluctantly accepts the proposal, intermittently butting heads with her newest recruit, who only stirs things further when dragging a couple of the more sheltered sisters to a late-night club in search of cheese steak shaped sustenance – the relentless offerings of mutton at the convent not proving sufficient for her ‘cultured’ palate.

Deloris’ time in the habit begins to blossom when she is requested to perform with the tone deaf choir, which she rapidly whips into shape, gaining local media coverage.

This leads to her cover being blown, granting Mother Superior the excuse that she’s been craving, to expel the troublesome newbie.

The second half bubbled up gradually, before reaching a captivating climax that likely moistened even the stoniest of eyeballs, with unlikely friendships formed and a romantic story arc reaching a satisfying denouement.

With a captivating lead and notable supporting performances from the likes of Nathaniel Meller and Nathan Stubbings — the latter a master of comic timing and facial expressions, surely destined for a fruitful stage career — any slight pitch and microphone issues were easy to overlook.

The daunting task of replicating Whoopi Goldberg’s iconic film was accomplished with aplomb.

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