The sisters are back in the habit and taking their mission across the UK as the unstoppable Sister Act tour hits the road for 2024, with some new stars and some familiar faces.
Photo by Mark Senior
Landi Oshinowo returns as disco diva Deloris Van Cartier, who regretfully witnesses her married boyfriend, Curtis Jackson (Ian Gareth-Jones), murder one of his cronies. For protection she is placed in a convent and attempts to blend, more than just her singing voice, with her new found sisters, much to the dismay of the despairing Mother Superior.
With big hair, big heels and big dreams, Deloris turns the convent into technicolour. Osninowo is an all-round talent, delivering zippy quips and long, soothing soul music. As Mother Superior, Lori Haley Fox slowly finds her groove and has audiences converted by the end.
Morgan Large’s funky 70s design ties everything together from the back alleys of downtown Philly and dark pews of decrepit churches to the neon lights of nightclubs. Despite the cracks in the stained glass windows, under the glitz of the mirrorballs, the larger-than-life personalities pop, and everybody has their chance to shine under a purple spotlight (lighting by Tim Mitchell). Whether they’re wearing a “penguin dress” or a 70s flared get-up, or sequined from top to toe. Or, in the finale’s case - all three.
Photo by Mark Senior
Played with holy passion by the orchestra, led by Tom Slade, the heavenly score soars. Alan Menken's music is deliciously gluttonous, filled with big beats and naughtiness of all kinds (lyrics are by Glenn Slater); "When I Find My Baby" suavely details how to prey on a doomed lover, and "Take Me to Heaven" lays down a funky Latin bassline and declares 'my booty’s headin’ for a special place'! Alistair David's slick and energetic choreography - it's a delightful mash of slick 70s moves and jazzercise routines -, makes the whole production a positively sinful treat.
There's no doubt that Sister Act is at its best during the group numbers. The nuns (particularly Isabel Canning and Julie Stark) are vividly imagined by book writers Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, and the trio of Elliot Gooch, Michalis Antoniou and Callum Martin gleefully wicked as groovy gangsters TJ, Pablo and Joey. But there's something holy about Alfie Parker as Eddie the love interest who steals the show when he pulls off a costume change during a solo soft jam. Meanwhile Eloise Runnette's quiet, hopeful Sister Mary Roberts gives you something to believe in.
It may be set in Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, but Sister Act is so spirit-raising you'll think you've died from laughter and gone to heaven.
This show is nun stop!