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Wednesday, June 27, 2018


One cannot fault a single member of the cast of 25 for lack of effort or enthusiasm. (Review by Keith Millar)

Northcliff High School from Johannesburg needs to be commended for the importance it places on the performing arts.

Sports tours, most commonly rugby and cricket, are regular events for many schools. However, few of them ever tour with a major stage production.

This year marks the 20th year that Northcliff High has brought its annual production to Durban for a season on a professional stage at the Playhouse Drama Theatre. The benefits derived from this tour by the young performers is immeasurable. They must benefit hugely from this special and enriching experience.

This year Northcliff High is offering the Comedy Musical, Sister Act. The Musical which is based on a 1992 movie which starred Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith.

It tells the story of night club singer Deloris van Cartier, who witnesses her gangland boyfriend, Curtis, shoot and kill a suspected police informer. She then has to hide out in a convent until she can testify as witness to the murder. At the convent she meets the Mother Superior who, to keep her out of mischief, charges her with coaching the nuns’ choir. She turns it into a singing sensation, which is invited to sing for the Pope.

Over the years, the Northcliff productions have had their ups and downs. Some years their productions have received considerable critical acclaim and were declared not to be out of place on the professional stage. While other years productions have not quite measured up to those high standards.

Unfortunately, Sister Act The Musical falls into the latter category. Having said that - if it is judged purely as a high school production, it is not bad at all, but it is I feel it is a little out of place on the professional stage.

However, one cannot fault a single member of the cast of 25 for lack of effort or enthusiasm. They all display boundless energy and passion and are obviously deriving great pleasure from their involvement in the musical.

The few stand-out performances included Pride Mncube in the lead role of Doloris Van Cartier. This young lady is only in Grade 9 but is already a pretty accomplished performer. She has a pleasant and strong singing voice, even if it did let her down on some of the high notes,

Also of note was Mathew Vey as the gangland boss Curtis. Built like a rugby forward, he surprised with his slick dance moves. He also has a good singing voice and managed to portray considerable menace in his role of the baddie.

The performance I particularly liked was that of Shannon Howard as Sister Mary Robert. She probably has the best singing voice on display and excelled with her solo, The Life I Never Led.

Touring a major production such as this, every year, is no mean feat, with everything from the performers, musicians, staff, sets and props having to be transported to Durban.

The man behind it all is the inimitable Nick Jourdan. He has been the director and producer of all the Northcliff productions which have toured to Durban and has been involved with the performing arts at the school for 36 years. Some past pupils who have been influenced by his tutoring and have gone on to make a name for themselves in the entertainment industry include singer Connell Cruise, Samantha Peo, the acclaimed singer and actress, and the multi-talented Jonathan Roxmouth.

The annual Northcliff High School productions have something of a cult flowing in Durban. One hopes all the fans will turn out again to support this truly worthwhile endeavour.

Sister Act The Musical runs in the Playhouse Drama Theatre from until July 1, 2018, with performances from Tuesday to Saturday at 19h30. There will be an extra show on Saturday (June 30) at 14h00 and a matinee on July 1 at 15h00. Tickets R110 (R90 pensioner/senior citizens) booked through Computicket. – Keith Millar