Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Director: Jerry Zaks
Reviewer: Zara Ellis
The Public Reviews Rating:
The new breed of happy go lucky musicals has really taken off over the past few years and the fun loving musical Sister Act is no exception. This divine comedy is packed full of humour, warmth and a whole lot of singing and appears that it has really been taken to the hearts of its fans. Based on the 1992 film, Sister Act – the musical originally opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California and then went on to open in 2009 in the West End, at the London Palladium to welcoming audiences.
Sister Act the musical is written by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner with additional material by Douglas Carter Beane and the motion picture by Joseph Howard. Original film Deloris, Whoopi Goldberg has taken a lead role as a producer for Sister Act the musical along with Stage Entertainment producing the show.
Cynthia Erivo leads the already wonderful and talented cast as the nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, who is on the run from her mobster boyfriend due to witnessing a murder by his hands, and Deloris takes refuge in the most unlikely of places, a nunnery, where she strikes up a friendship and sisterhood with the nuns there and whips the church choir into shape. Erivo is everything that a leading lady should be funny, glamorous, brilliant and gifted with a truly soulful voice. The music in the show compliments her superb voice perfectly with lively upbeat soul numbers to slower, more reflective songs that show moments of contrast between the gentleness and brashness qualities in the character of Deloris.
Other standout performances that added to the overall enjoyment of the evening were Coronation Street actress Denise Black, who was tender and touching and incredibly witty in her portrayal of Mother Superior, Michael Starke who is recognisable from the soap Brookside, and who was truly humorous as the Monsignor O’ Hara and the rest of the cast are to an excellent standard and complimented each other impeccably well. The stage design was very impressive and full of colour to match the colourful songs, and a set of the inside of a convent was used quite frequently. The costumes were very colourful and lit up the stage when the cast were wearing them, especially nearer to the end of the performance when the cast wore an array of glittery and sequin filled religious outfits.
The music by Alan Menken is the glue that holds the show together and provides the backbone to the choir praising story with 70s inspired numbers. With brilliant tap footing songs like “Take Me to Heaven” and soulful emotional songs like the title song “Sister Act”, where Deloris questions her hunger for fame and realises that it’s the sister act that she actually hungers more. American Lyrist Glenn Slater has delicately encompassed the whole idea of the show and written lyrics that reflect the humour, love and wit that the show sends out to the viewer. Another vocally impressive song was by Julie Atherton, whose portrayal of Sister Mary Robert in “The Life I Never Led” was poignant and moving. Another credit to Slater for the wonderful lyrics that was more prominent in the slower paced songs of the evening, where things were rightfully slowed down temporarily before another fist pumping number made its way into the convents choir.
Overall Sister Act is an uplifting, musical and humorous show, with a lot of great singers, great performances and great disco moves. A feel good musical, that is suitable for families with children over the age of 12 due to the inclusion of guns in the story. Recommend to watch and get your voices at the ready to sing along. The transition from screen to stage has been flawless.
Deloris sums it up perfectly in the show “I’m part of one terrific Sister Act”, and so was the audience even if it was, only for one evening.
Runs until 6th October 2012
Tags: Alan Menken, Bill Steinkellner, Cherie Steinkellner, Cynthia Erivo, Denise Black, Douglas Carter Beane, Glenn Slater, Joseph Howard, Julie Atherton, Manchester, Michael Starke, Opera House, Sister Act, Stage Entertainment, Whoopi Goldberg