Sister Act

“A complete tonic”

Joyous is probably the best word to describe Sister Act.  Safe to say, we probably all remember the film starring Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier, a club singer who witnesses a murder and has to go into hiding at a convent.  The story itself is one of complete sisterhood and being there for each other in times of need.

This musical is packed with fantastic tunes and when you realise that Alan Menken was involved, it’s no surprise that each and every one becomes an earworm, and you can’t resist singing a bit of ‘Fabulous Baby’ as you leave the theatre.

Sandra Marvin as Deloris is perfectly cast.  She, of course, has an amazing voice, but also fantastic stage presence and provides a wonderful comedic performance that encompasses everything Deloris is, and you want her to be.  She is a wannabe star and has aspirations of hitting the big time.  When thrown into a world that she has no connection to whatsoever it’s a real journey of overcoming a quieter pace of life and finding peace with herself and the rest of the Nuns.  She is given the job of leading the choir, which at first sounds completely out of tune, but once Deloris works her magic people are coming into the church from the streets which helps with fundraising to save the building, much to the delight of Monsignor O’Hara (Graham Macduff) who very much gets into the spirit of this new sound.

As professional performers and singers, it’s a real talent to be able to sing off-key and without any sense of rhythm, so praise must be given here.  In particular, Lizzie Bea who plays Sister Mary Robert starts the show as a very quiet singer, however by the end has blossomed into providing the most beautiful sound.  This was echoed during her solo number ‘The Life I Never Led’, which gave me goosebumps on top of goosebumps.  Lizzie’s voice truly is heaven sent.

Of course, as Deloris enters the convent for the first time there is unease from Mother Superior, played spectacularly by Lesley Joseph.  She doesn’t agree with her way of life and feels like she will bring unrest to the Nuns, however what transpires is a wonderful relationship between the two which provides a real heartfelt moment. Lesley Joseph is no stranger to the stage, and she is completely wonderful in her portrayal of the rather grumpy Mother Superior but also managing to provide plenty of laugh out loud moments, especially during her solo number ‘I Haven’t Got a Prayer’.  She only has to walk onto the stage and I smile, that’s star quality right there!

I do have to make mention of gangster Curtis Jackson (Mark Goldthorp) and his three hench men, Pablo (Damian Buhagiar), Joey (Tom Hopcroft) and TJ (Castell Parker).  The whole group provide such hilarity with a particular highlight being ‘Lady In The Long Black Dress’, which if you’re not crying from laughter at the end, you need to head off and confess your sins!

The Police Officer tasked with looking after Deloris, Eddie Souther was played magnificently by Alfie Parker.  Having known Deloris from their school days, Eddie has always held a torch for her and wants nothing more than to take her under his wing.  Parker’s solo number ‘I Could Be That Guy’ is another stand out moment (there are plenty in this show if you’ve not already guessed!).  To twin with the impressive vocal, the overall performance raised much applause, especially when the song ramps up and we see a sparkly outfit beneath the rather mundane police uniform.  Another truly fantastic moment, and one of the reasons that I sat with the biggest smile on my face throughout the whole show!

The staging by Morgan Large incorporates many elements of the convent, but we are also transported into the police station and Eddie’s flat.  Each transition is smooth and when combined with the impressive lighting by Tim Mitchell, the stage is awash with colour.  Of course, the costumes are very standard for Nuns, however during the final number each character is dressed in a sparkly and colourful habit, encompassing every colour of the rainbow, which during Pride Month, was a joy to see!

I could wax lyrical for pages about this show as it truly is a complete tonic.  It’s funny, heart-warming and full of incredible musical numbers.  So make sure you get into the habit of seeing Sister Act out on tour…..it’s FABULOUS BABY! 

This show was reviewed on the 5th June 2023.  Sister Act runs at the Wolverhampton Grand until the 10th June 2023.  Tickets available here: SISTER ACT | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Full tour details can be found here: Sister Act The Musical | UK Tour

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

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