THE SPOTLIGHT will shine on a pair of Darlington actresses when they share a classic role this winter.

Rhiannon Walker and Claire Willmer are set to don wimples and take to the stage in Darlington Operatic Society’s upcoming production of the popular musical Sister Act.

The pair will share the role of Deloris Van Cartier, a character made famous by Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg.

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The society’s chairman Julian Cound said the character needed to be performed by sound actresses with “belting” voices in order to do justice to classic songs like Take me to Heaven, Fabulous Baby and Raise Your Voice.

He added: “I guess the first thing people will think when they see this cast list will be “Why is Deloris not being played by a black actress like in the film?”

“The truth is, the story is not about race or colour - it’s about people from completely different ends of the spectrum learning about tolerance, friendship and how working together can result in the greater good."

He added: “The role of Deloris was originally written for Bette Midler but she turned the role down saying that her fans didn’t want to see her in a wimple.”

Claire Willmer is an operatic society veteran, having performed in four previous productions with the company.

However, 26-year-old Rhiannon Walker will be making her debut.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled and a little bit gobsmacked, to be honest.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I can’t wait to get into the thick of rehearsals.”

Sister Act will be performed at Darlington Civic Theatre from Wednesday, October 22 until Saturday, November 1.

Tickets, costing £19 for adults and £14 for children, can now be booked by calling 01325-244659 or visiting