Quick Change Review: Sister Act (Tour)
Slick, stylish and sensational. Sister Act may well be the musical theatre answer to all of my prayers.
Bill Buckhurst's triumphant revival transports us to 1970s Philadelphia. The music scene is smoking, boot heels are high and the egos are big - so is this stage production.
Sister Act follows nightclub singer and wannabe superstar, Deloris Van Cartier (Sandra Marvin), after she witnesses her gangster lover Curtis (Jeremy Secomb) shoot and kill a man. For protection, she is sent to a convent at the helm of the begrudged Mother Superior (a dignified Lesley Joseph), and slowly adjusts to her new life with the nuns through the power of music.
As the sisters find their voices, they use them to save their church and protect Deloris in this simple but engaging story of strength and unity.
Photo by Manuel Harlan
Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s massive songs really give Sister Act its heart. A heavenly blend of soul and funk, the music feels irresistibly nostalgic but fresh with verses of Latin rap and clever lyricism.
Played with holy passion by the orchestra, the score soars and swells, filling the theatre and elevating the sensational vocal performances from the cast. Lizzie Bea’s "The Life I Never Led" was off the scale.
Sandra Marvin is absolutely stellar as Deloris – her vocal is impressive, but the shining feature is her characterisation. In a beautiful presentation, Deloris is bold but irresistibly loveable. The jokes and gags land effortlessly every time. It truly is a comic masterclass.
Together, the sisters are an unstoppable supergroup. Working largely as an ensemble, each brings something individual to every number. The act one closing number, "Take Me To Heaven" is pure joy. Alistair David’s choreography has nuns smacking bums and the audience in stitches.
If that’s what heaven is like, I’d be happy to die of laughter.
For a show where the material dictates a colour palette of black and white, Morgan Large has designed a technicolour wonderland. Flared trousers, tassel cat suits, and diamanté miniskirts nod to the popular fashions of the 1970s disco era. Tim Mitchell’s light design could power stadiums.
The production is playful - there’s a brilliant quick-change sequence (performed with gusto by Graham Macduff as Eddie), a great high-speed chase on a rickshaw bicycle, and songs about murder performed as boyband ballads by a floppy haired trio of gangsters.
Sister Act is as delicious as a Philly cheese steak, and you’ll commit gluttony with the desire to see it again and again. It would be blasphemy to not say how bloody good it is!
Sister Act is currently on tour.