Following last year’s acclaimed Aberdeen Student Show, Michty Mia, expectation that a fun evening lies ahead runs high, as the audience at His Majesty’s Theatre waits for the student’s 96th annual performance to begin.
This year’s sell-out offering is Sister Echt, based loosely on the 1992 smash-hit Whoopi Goldberg movie, Sister Act – but with a Doric twist. Mae Diansangu, an art student, plays the lead as Judy Tarland. Tarland who, after witnessing a murder at a barn dance near Echt, is sent for her own safety to a newly built convent, erected on the former grounds of Craiginches Prison. Initially, Tarland struggles to fit in as an undercover nun, but her plan of singing in Doric to help fill the empty pews at the convent soon makes her popular with the sisters. Diansangu gives a solid performance, both vocally and in leading the cast.
The score is upbeat, filled with foot tapping numbers guaranteed to make the audience smile, but the real strength of the show comes from the gag-filled Doric lyrics, as this is what the audience has come to expect and enjoy. Jokes panning President Trump’s local golf course, the long awaited Aberdeen bypass, and the local council, are all going down well.
Directed by Ryan and Joanna Peacock, along with Craig Pike, the set convincingly moves from a barn dance in Echt to a pub in Torry to the granite cloisters of the new Craiginches Convent. Dance scenes, choreographed by an Aberdeen veteran of musical theatre, Sophie Hamilton Pike, are slick, making it hard to remember that this is a student show.
In a meeting with script editor, Shane Strachan, a regular on the student show writing team, he explains how a group of writers work hard over the winter before handing the script to the direction team, when dialogue then evolves with the cast. He also shares that the production and script teams are often alumni who took part in the show during their student years and that, after 96 shows, there’s a lot of history and stories that could be told. Many a wedding and baby is thanks to the Student Show!
Weddings and babies aside, Sister Echt is yet another success by Aberdeen Student Charities’ Campaign. The audience leaves with expectations exceeded!