Earlier this week I went along to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham to see an all new production of the Broadway and West End smash hit musical comedy, Sister Act. The musical is based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film of the same name and is directed by Strictly Come Dancing judge, Craig Revel Horwood. For today’s post, I’m sharing my thoughts on it with you guys in case you’ve been thinking about going to see it yourselves. I hope you enjoy it.
WHAT IS SISTER ACT ABOUT?
Set in the 1970’s, Sister Act tells the heartwarming tale of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe superstar who accidentally witnesses her boyfriend, Curtis, and his cronies shoot a guy they think has been squealing about them to the police. Horrified, she runs away, and Curtis orders his men to go after her and bring her back. But it’s too late. Deloris has already reached the police station and has told the desk chief, Eddie, everything that had happened. Eddie recognises Deloris as the girl from high school who he had a crush on but who called him ‘Sweaty Eddie’. He decides that Deloris needs to go into witness protection for her own safety, and he sends her to the one place he’s convinced that Curtis won’t find her – a convent.
Disguised as a nun, Deloris finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle of the convent, and the uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique talents to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church, but in doing so blows her cover. She soon finds herself a nun-on-the-run, but manages to find salvation in the heavenly power of her newly found sisterhood.
MY THOUGHTS ON THE SISTER ACT MUSICAL
Upon arrival at the theatre, we were told that Alexandra Burke (who plays the lead role in the show) was unwell and wouldn’t be appearing in that evening’s performance. I heard a few people express their disappointment at this, but as an avid theatre-goer, I know that these things happen, and more often than not I find that their understudies are just as good (if not better) than the person actually playing the lead.
On the night I saw Sister Act, the role of Deloris Van Cartier was played by Joanna Francis. And Joanna’s usual role of Michelle was played by Nicola Bryan. My friend Jo and I took our seats in the auditorium just before the show started, and we couldn’t believe how full it was for a Monday evening. I don’t think there was an empty seat in the house! You could feel the excitement in the air and neither of us could wait for the show to begin.
Act one opened with Mother Superior declaring to the lord that the convent was in need. She told him how the church was falling apart, the parishioners no longer came, and there were only a few sisters left to speak of. She knows that if something doesn’t happen soon they’ll be forced to close their doors. And it’s clear from the passion in her voice that she doesn’t want this to happen. She asks where their salvation is, and it’s here that we met Deloris Van Cartier for the very first time.
I thought that Joanna gave an outstanding performance on the night, and she really owned the role of Deloris. I knew instantly that she was a character I was going to love. And as well as having the most amazingly powerful singing voice, she delivered her lines with great passion and perfect comic timing too.
I thought the rest of the casting was brilliant as well, with everyone’s roles fitting to a T. And the scenery? Well, the scenery was just incredible! It was set up to look like we were in an actual church, with high ceilings and big windows. There was even an organ and confession box towards the back of the stage. The attention to detail was just fantastic.
Before I went to see Sister Act I was familiar with a couple of the songs from the show – ‘Take Me to Heaven’ and ‘Fabulous, Baby!’ to be precise. But I have to be honest and say I didn’t know any of the others. I was slightly worried that the other songs wouldn’t be that great after reading a couple of bad reviews on them, but I needn’t have worried. It happens to be chock full of glorious numbers, and I like that it combines both disco music (after all, it is set in the 70’s) along with the more ‘churchy’ sounding stuff that you’d expect from a show like this.
I also have to mention how much I loved the costumes! I felt that Deloris, in particular, was the sort of person who liked to keep up with the latest trends. And I had to laugh, as believe it or not I have the handbag she uses in the show in a tan colour and a very similar pair of FM Boots in black! The wardrobe department clearly have great taste! Hehe.
I definitely feel that the cast make this show the success it is. They had high energy throughout the whole thing, despite the running time being quite long compared to some of the other shows I’ve been to recently. And it’s obvious how much they enjoy doing what they do.
There were a few really memorable moments for me during the performance I saw. One of these being when Sister Mary Robert (played by Sarah Goggin) takes a real shine to Deloris and begs her to take her with her when she’s finally able to leave the convent. She sings ‘The Life I Never Led’ and she seemed so heartbroken to be losing her friend that I found had tears in my eyes toward the end of the song!
I also loved the way the nuns sang terribly until Deloris was put in charge of the choir and taught them how to sing in perfect harmony. It can’t be easy to pretend you’re completely tone-deaf. I mean, if I could sing (which I can’t) I don’t think I would be able to pretend I couldn’t. I’d be wanting to show off my lovely voice way too much!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. And so did my friend Jo, who went along to see it with me. I was completely gripped from start to finish, and I would most definitely go and see it again if I got the chance. The entire cast is utterly engaging, and it was clear from the start that they absolutely love being a part of the show.
Sister Act had us laughing from the start, but there were also some serious, breath holding moments too. And of course it sends a strong message about materialistic things not being as important as friendship, love and doing the right thing.
Since I saw the show on Monday I’ve been listening to the soundtrack non-stop, and have raved to anyone who will listen about how brilliant it is! If you only see one show this year then I highly recommend you make it this. I guarantee you’ll love it. And in the words of Craig Revel Horwood, it’s FAB-U-LOUS!
The show is currently running at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham until Saturday 11th February 2017, before continuing on its tour around the UK. Tickets for the shows can be booked by clicking here.
Are you a fan of musicals? And have you ever seen Sister Act on the stage?
Let me know in the comments below!
*I was kindly given two tickets to see Sister Act in exchange for an honest review