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New habit for Hancock

Published 30 January 2009

Esteemed British actress Sheila Hancock will don a habit for the role of the austere Mother Superior in the forthcoming London Palladium musical Sister Act.

Sister Act tells the story of club singer Deloris Van Cartier, who, after witnessing a violent crime is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found – a convent. Disguised as a nun, she quickly finds fans amongst her fellow sisters, but manages to get on the wrong side of the convent’s Mother Superior. Soon the singer turns her attention to helping the convent’s off-key choir, but, with the mob on her tail, she risks blowing her cover for good.

Making her West End debut, Patina Miller will join Hancock in the role of Deloris, the character that Whoopi Goldberg created in the original 1992 film of the same name. Dad’s Army and EastEnders actor Ian Lavender will star alongside the two as Monsignor Howard.

Hancock’s extensive film, TV, radio and theatre career spans over 40 years. She first appeared on the West End stage in 1978 as Mrs Hannigan in the musical Annie. Her most recent stage credits include The Anniversary at the Garrick theatre, Under The Blue Sky at the Royal Court and In Extremis at the National Theatre. In 2007 Hancock took home the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Cabaret at the Lyric theatre. The actress has also twice been nominated for a BAFTA award, her television work including New Tricks, Bedtime, The Russian Bride, Bleak House and EastEnders. Last year she appeared in the award winning Holocaust film The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

Hancock’s co-star Miller was cast following a year-long global search. Miller, an American actress born and raised in South Carolina, performed last year in the Broadway production of Hair and has appeared on the American daytime soap All My Children.

Announcing the casting, Whoopi Goldberg said “I am proud to announce that 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.”

Making up the rest of the cast are Chris Jarmen as Shank, Ako Mitchell as Eddie, Katie Rowley Jones as Sister Mary Robert, Claire Greenway as Sister Mary Patrick, Julia Sutton as Sister Mary Lazarus, Thomas Goodridge as TJ, Nicolas Colicos as Bones and Ivan De Freitas as Dinero.

Sister Act, which is produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment, will be directed by Peter Schneider. Musical supervision comes from Michael Kosarin, choreography by Anthony Van Laast, set design by Klara Zieglerova, costume design by Lez Brotherston, sound design by Mick Potter, lighting design by Natasha Katz and musical direction by Nicholas Skilbeck.

Sister Acts begins previews from 7 May at the London Palladium, opening 2 June.

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