12-17 September 2016
Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
“This Diva’s got a secret… and it’s nun of your business”
So you have probably watched the Film of Sister Act with Whoopie Goldgerg and are thinking (like I did) how can they make this into a play on one stage? Can Alexandra Burke, playing the lead (Deloris Van Cartier) take your heart like in the film? Will they sing all the famous songs? All I will say is you won’t be disappointed, if anything you will want to rebook and go and see it again!
So what is the musical about? As with the film it focuses on Deloris who witnesses a murder and gets hidden in a convent. Now, there is “artistic licence” and there is humour, sadness and a light hearted approach to the storyline. With catchy songs, amazing musicians, dancers and singers that just captivated you. The lighting and the way in which it brings the audience onto the stage, was just amazing and words cannot describe the impact it has on the audience.
I was unsure on the impact Craig Revel Horwood (Director and Choreographer) would have on the production, but all I can say is the choreography was amazing. The way in which the dancers moved around with elegance and ease, with complex routines which was made to look simple was just wonderful. I felt privileged to witness such as show of strength, standard and energy.
It would be hard to write a review of Sister Act without mentioning the lead performer; Alexandra Burke as Deloris Van Cartier, I could mention her voice is astounding, her range, tone and control was just mesmerising but that would be just stating the obvious. I was impressed by her acting, stage presence and the way in which she engaged with the audience; this was not what I was expecting and it far exceeded my expectations to make the evening truly memorable.
All of the Sisters’ voices were amazing, and the way in which as a choir managed to reach every note perfectly out of time and in the wrong cord was amazing! Many audience members were closing their ears to the “noise” however, it reminded me of my 6 year old girls trying to sing! It was brilliant, and you truly thought that the choir couldn’t sing, and I had thought maybe they would “swap” the choir but I needn’t have worried, once Deloris had trained them (which for me, I wish they had spent more time on the script on) they were reaching notes that no one ever dreamed of hearing. They complimented one another, and Deloris so well that words can’t describe the feelings they created by singing.
For me the voice of Sister Mary Robert (played by Sarah Goggin) reminded me of Disney Princesses, smooth and peaceful with an electrifying tone when needed! She played the character impeccably, even to the point of when she entered the stage you knew exactly which “Sister” she would play from the film. This also could be said for Sister Mary Patrick (played by Susannah Van Den Berg) and Sister Mary Theresa (Alison Harding) who portrayed the “original” characters so well, but added their own unique touches.
I was sad that the “original” songs from the film weren’t sang, but I presume this is to with copyright however this does not distract away from a show which cannot be missed. A truly heart-warming, exciting and quality production for all ages. Even if you had never seen the film I am sure you would enjoy the musical as much as I did.
Before I finish my review I need to make comments on the staging and musicians; amazing! That is the only word to describe the way in which the props moved to make a church look like a prison, to have confessional, a bedroom, a dining room with the same back drop was brilliant. The musicians were playing live on stage (played by many of the Sisters and boys (Pablo, Joey, Eddie and Curtis)) was truly unexpected and made the show that bit better. I love to see musicians play and the way in which they incorporated them into each set, and story was just brilliant. The men of the show cannot go without a mention either; they played their roles effectively although in my own mind I thought Curtis (played by Aaron Lee Lambert) could have played a meaner character, but this is where the artistic licence comes involved and if the character was harder, then the song choices would not have worked as well (in my un-trained opinion).
Overall I give this 10 out of 5, the way the cast complement one another, the staging, set design and performance cannot be faulted and it is truly worth the standing ovation (I expect it will get each night).
Tickets cost from £17.90 to £75.90 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Sister Act is at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham until 17 September 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS