Association of Community Theatre


Ashton Operatic Society

Director: Martin Preston

Musical Director: Simon Pickup

Choreographer: Jean Johnson


This is one of those shows that is pure entertainment, a “feel good show”. It has a fun story line and toe-tapping music. To be able to create this theatrical experience a production team with vision is needed. With this presentation, the director found the heart of the piece and the humour which lay neatly within the dialogue. It needed just the right amount of push to be able to lift the comedy off the page, and this is what we got. Similarly, the choreography has to create a certain degree of nostalgia, reminiscent of Peter Gordeno, and Pan’s People, to add to the overall effect of the production. This was achieved and stylishly executed by a team of dancers, and by the cast. The score is a musical feast for all, delivered in keeping with the overall concept and here the company was supported by an excellent band.


The opening cabaret audition / rehearsal scene never seems to work. It is not until the murder is witnessed that the show really finds it feet. This musical drama was playout against aesthetic scenery provided by “Chillout Productions” and costumes by the “Boyz”. It was a shame scene changes were somewhat laboured otherwise the technical elements were good.


The casting has to be flawless. No one can be carried as everyone in exposed and each performer has to “hit the mark”. The local hoodlum, Curtis (Martin Kelly) and his henchmen, Pablo (Ben MacKenzie), Joey (John Mercer) and TJ (Jason Tinney) were gangsterland’s “Three Stooges”. Their number “Lady In The Long Black Dress” was much enjoyed by the audience.


Trying to bring down Curtis is Police Officer Eddie Souther, who was played by Paul Allison. Paul always becomes the character he is portraying and he has a natural flair for comedy. “Sweaty Eddie” was alive and “sweating”!


There are plenty of cameo roles. ALL the sisters were individual characters and complemented the story telling. They were fronted by Sister Mary Lazarus (Mandy Mallinson). Sister Mary Robert (Lorna Richardson). and Sister Mary Patrick (Michelle Sutton-Cooke). Full of energy they added to the comedy and the overall excitement of the choir directed by Deloris. disguised as a nun.


Working to save the convent from closure and keeping the peace between the Mother Superior and Deloris is Monsignor O’Hara. This is a role that can be thrown away or can be notably portrayed. Carl Morgan was more than notable; he got everything he could out of the role.


Lisa Kay played the Mother Superior. This character stands apart from the others until differences with Deloris are settled. Lisa commanded the stage and captured the pathos and humanity of the role.


Causing all the trouble is larger than life Deloris Van Cartier. The actor has to be a belt singer who can handle dialogue, and know how to deliver comedy. Catherine Cooper ticked all the boxes. She was a power house who knew how to use the pause to get the punch lines across. Leading the company numbers she gave the spark that gleefully lifted the music.


This “Devine Musical” did not allow “The Beast from the East” to keep the audience at home. A good house was more than responsive; the company had reached its audience. It was a job well done.