By Leyla Demirel
You’d think a hollowed church hall wouldn’t be the best place to rehearse a fully staged musical, and yet I had the wonderful pleasure of being invited to the rehearsal of a full run-through of BATS (Basingstoke amateur theatrical society) newest show, Sister Act, opening at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke on the 17th May. And what a fantastic time I had! If the rehearsal is anything to go by, the show will be something really quite special and the audience will be in for a treat.
Sister Act is a bold choice for an amateur dramatic musical. With this show choice comes big boots to fill. It’s both a film and musical almost everyone knows and loves, with big vocals and with that – big expectations. Yet this is not phasing anyone in the rehearsal room. They are taking it all in their stride.
There’s a sort of irony of Sister Act being rehearsed in a church hall – it’s quite fitting, actually! The rehearsal period can be some of the best parts of putting on a show. Knowing you are telling a story and a part of something special, the magic of theatre, something that is going to make people smile.
It is in this empty church hall where, despite the echoey sounds being swallowed up, the cast is still doing a fantastic job at filling the room with their high energy. If they can make the show work here, they can more than make it work in a theatre.
Under Louise Travis’ direction and choreography, and Adam Blosse’s musical direction, BATS’ sister act has strong vocals – including the harmonies – the tight choreography and full staging is all pretty much there. It is all of this combined that is building the excitement –
in those both on and off stage (and for me!) for when the show all comes together and is fleshed out and finalized in the theatre.
The show is wonderful, but what is even more important than that is everyone is having fun. With amateur dramatics, people don’t expect west end standards, but that doesn’t make a single bit of difference as long as everyone on stage is trying their best and – most importantly – having fun and everyone in the audience knows that. The audience is already on am dram’s side and wants them to do well…but with BATS, their passion, energy, and effort they’ve put into this show – all these combined means they’re actually not far off being west end standard at all.
Amateur dramatic productions always feel special. This is a community who have come together to put on a show and is determined it will be a good one at that. The support and love that everyone on and off-stage has for each other are heart-warming, to say the least, and it is BATS’ support and love for each other as well as their enthusiasm and energy that can be felt in all four corners of the room. I found it hard not to get too caught up in it and I had to remind myself – this is just a rehearsal, they still have just under 3 weeks to go!
Sister Act is the upbeat, happy, and comedic show I’m sure everyone could do with a dose of. Opening on the 17th of May at Basingstoke’s Haymarket theatre, I challenge audience members who go to not leave with a smile on their faces, singing the songs and at the very least tapping their feet. If the rehearsal is anything to go by, then I, for one, will be there at the first show with eager anticipation, ready to see everyone’s hard work pay off in the polished final piece.
BATS’ Sister Act runs at Basingstoke’s Haymarket theatre from the 17th-21st of May. Their previous productions have been known to sell out before the shows even arrive, so if you’re wanting to go – do not delay in booking!
You can buy tickets here: https://www.anvilarts.org.uk/whats-on/event/bats-sister-act-the-musical