Theatre Review: Sister Act – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Sister Act UK Tour 2016

This review was originally posted in The Reviews Hub

Alexandra Burke can certainly sing like a diva. After dazzling as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, the X Factor winner returns to the stage as Deloris Van Cartier in an all-new musical stage production of Sister Act.

Based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith, Sister Act tells the story of aspiring disco diva Deloris Van Cartier (Burke) who is placed under protective custody at a Convent after she witnesses a murder involving her boyfriend, Curtis (Aaron Lee Lambert).Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior (Karen Mann), Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices and unexpectedly rediscovers her own.

Funny, funky and fabulous, Craig Revel Horwood’s feel-good production of Sister Act is a little slice of heaven. With its dazzling dance routines, superb cast performance and original music score by Tony and Oscar winner Alan Menken, this sleek and sassy musical production boasts plenty of bounce and energy and is sure to have you dancing in the pews.

Matthew Wright’s stunning set with itsmulti-coloured dance floor and huge glitter ball evokes the exuberant soul and disco era of the 1970s while Richard G Jones’ lighting is highly creative. Menken’s original musical numbers includingRaise Your Voice,Take Me to Heaven,Sister Actand the catchy and show-stopping finaleSpread the Love Around are also catchy and memorable.

Burke excels as disco diva Deloris, her big, bold and sassy stage presence selling the character perfectly. The richness and range of Burke’s voice is matched by her dry delivery and hilarious comic timing. Karen Mann is equally excellent as Mother Superior, whose piousness and dark humour easily gets the biggest laughs. Other notable performances include Rosemary Ashe as the feisty Sister Mary Lazarus, Sarah Goggin as the emboldened postulant Sister Mary Robert, and Jon Robyns as the shy cop Eddie.

While Bill and Cheri Steinkellner’s adaptation stays true to the original film, there’s no denying that the storyline could use some divine inspiration. The plot is pretty ludicrous and, as such, a few sections of the show tend to drag, particularly as the nuns never actually leave the Convent.

That said, the stellar cast performances make up for the poor plotting with most of the cast doubling up as members of the band. Revel Horwood’s choreography is also impressive, particularly the high energy group number Take Me to Heavenat end of the first act.

If you’re a fan of the original film, you’re sure to enjoy Sister Act. A heavenly hit that’s well worthy of praise.

4 out of 5 stars

Runs until 3 September 2016 | Image: Contributed

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