‘I’m so fabulous!’ announces Alexandra Burke, arriving on stage as Delores Van Cartier, soul singer in downtown Detroit. But in Sister Act The Musical, it’s only when she’s joined by her sisters and dons the habit of Sister Mary Clarence that things really perk up, and the performance is lifted from an everyday service to something with spirit.
Directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, the singing and dancing is generally understated, with sporadic and overt set jokes put in place. A highlight was the slow motion battle between gangster and nuns in one of the final sequences, clever lighting slowing it down and heightening the comedic effect.The lit church arches of the stage are evocative (Matthew Wright, Set Designer and Richard G Jones, Light Designer) and even more so once Sister Mary Clarence has brought glitter and disco to the cloisters.
The cast of sisters (Karen Mann as Mother Superior, Susanna Van Der Berg as Sister Mary Patrick and Alice Stokoe playing Sister Mary Robert in particular) are charismatic and lively, working best as a collective rather than stereotyped individuals. But there’s little emotion in the audience, and it’s unclear whether this is impacted by or impacting on a lacklustre performance. Alongside some of the dated jokes is a lovely sense of sisterly solidarity and the beauty of compassion and friendship that can overcome anything.
Although overall a little average, and with some dated jokes, Sister Act is a lovely sense of sisterly solidarity and the beauty of compassion and friendship that can overcome anything. A story of music, friendship and the uplifting power of soul in all its forms.