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Newcomer Stars with Hancock in Goldberg's Sister

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Newcomer Patina Miller has, after a year-long search, been cast to star in the stage version of Sister Act, playing the role of Deloris Van Cartier, the part played in the original film by Whoopi Goldberg, who is co-producing the West End premiere (See News, 14 Nov 2008). The musical comedy opens at the London Palladium on 2 June 2009 (previews from 7 May).

A native American, 24-year-old Miller (pictured with Goldberg) was born and raised in South Carolina. Her previous stage credits include the 2008 New York revival of Hair. Sister Act - which will also star Olivier Award winner Sheila Hancock as the Mother Superior, the part played on screen by Maggie Smith - will mark Miller’s West End debut.

Commenting on the casting, Goldberg said today: “We’ve finally found you an amazing girl to play Deloris. It wasn't easy, but we did it. And boy, can she sing (unlike some people we know – me!). And in order to match her, we went for the best and we got the brilliant Sheila Hancock is our Mother Superior, a legend and not just in my mind. I think together they will reinvent Sister Act and bring it to a whole new level… can you tell I'm excited?”

Hancock won a 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Cabaret and was seen on stage in last year’s 50th anniversary revival of Pinter’s The Birthday Party at the Lyric Hammersmith. Her other most recent stage credits include The Anniversary, The Arab-Israeli Cookbook, Vassa.

Miller and Hancock are joined in the cast by Ian Lavender as Monsignor Howard, as well as Chris Jarman (Shank), Ako Mitchell (Eddie), Katie Rowley Jones (Sister Mary Robert), Claire Greenway (Sister Mary Patrick], Julia Sutton (Sister Mary Lazarus), Thomas Goodridge (TJ), Nicolas Colicos (Bones) and Ivan De Freitas (Dinero). The cast also includes Vanessa Barmby, Amy Booth-Steel, Julian Cannonier, Ben Clare, Helen Colby, Kate Coyston, Jennie Dale, Jaymz Denning, Nia Fisher, Alison Harding, Paul Kemble, Debbie Kurup, George Long, Hugh Maynard, Jo Napthine, Aysa O’Flaherty, Landi Oshinowo, Verity Quade, Helen Walsh and Emma Woods.

Transplanted to 1970s Philadelphia, Sister Act tells the story of disco diva Deloris, who, after witnessing a murder and being put in protective police custody in a convent, brings some soul to the church choir, much to the initial consternation of the Mother Superior.

The 1992 Hollywood film of Sister Act grossed over $200million worldwide and spawned a sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. The musical - which, in an earlier version in the US, was seen in Pasadena, California in 2006 and in Atlanta, Georgia last year – has an original score by Alan Menken, best known for his work on Disney films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, with lyrics by his long-time collaborator Glenn Slater. The book is by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner.

The production is directed by Peter Schneider, designed by Klara Zieglerova and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast, with musical supervision by Michael Kosarin, costumes by Lez Brotherston, sound by Mick Potter, lighting by Natasha Katz and musical direction by Nick Skilbeck. It’s produced in London by Goldberg and Stage Entertainment.

Currently at the Palladium, The Sound of Music finishes its two-year run on 28 February 2009. Sister Act is initially booking through to 13 February 2010.

- by Terri Paddock


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