Sister Act the Musical - Heaven Sent!
I have been a Sister Act fan from both film releases and honestly can say I know every song and line to both, I have seen the musical before with a different cast and writer so to say I am well schooled in all things Sister Act would be an understatement. So I was extra delighted to be asked to review tonight's show as I had received tickets for Christmas a few years ago to see Whoopi Goldberg reprise her role as Deloris, along with Jennifer Saunders as Mother superior in London before Covid unfortunately hit. After two reschedules Whoopi was no longer available to reprise her role and I was left disappointed and joyless….. Well, Sister Act The Musical tonight at the Grand Opera House washed away that disappointment like a tsunami with its camp high-energy fun, phenomenal soundtrack, superb staging and diverse cast but most of all LESLEY JOSEPH a.k.a Dorien from Birds of a Feather!!
The show, like the film that inspired it tells the story of a going nowhere fast, washed-up lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier (Played superbly by Sandra Marvin) who when auditioning for a permanent spot in a Las Vegas lounge witnesses her gangster boyfriend murder an undercover mole leaving her with no other option but, to go on the run to stay alive with the help of police protection in the form of Eddie Souther (Played by Clive Rowe) who turns out to be an old friend from school “Steady Eddie.” Where would the last place a Las Vegas gangster would look for his sequin-loving girlfriend be? You guessed it!..... A struggling nunnery in the shape of Saint Katherine’s Convent in San Francisco with a stern and traditional Mother Superior in the shape of Lesley Joseph who gives the role her all with her perfect comedy timing she has come to be known for since her Birds of a Feather days, I just hope I have her moves and wit when I am her age, p.s watch out for a perfectly timed razor that had the entire audience in wrinkles of laughter.
As the story goes in the film so does this glitzy musical theatre comedy, with Deloris initially having a difficult time trying to come to terms with her new life as a nun at the convent with early morning starts, fasts and the unglamorous nun habits et all. She eventually finds her holy calling and the unlikeliest friendships through music with the convent's choir to show that sisterhood can be found in the most unlikely of places.
The show isn’t a black and white copy from the film but certainly stays pretty close to it most of the way through allowing for slight changes to the story to make the entire thing work on a theatre stage.
Sandra Marvin commands the stage as Deloris like a true disco diva and her onstage relationship with Lesley Joseph (Mother Superior) is strong for all to see with how they bounce off each other throughout.
Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert is such a positive casting with strong vocals and a personality that shines through her story telling of going from the shy quiet one to taking on being one of the leads in the Convent choir just in time for their performance for the Pope.
Anne Smith who I recognised from her time playing the evil Countess Von Winklebottom in the Grand Opera House Panto of Goldilocks shows her ability to be down with the kids and not take herself too seriously between rapping and taking the lower notes within the choir she gained the laughs at all the right places.
With a few new numbers included through the show to enjoy including “Take me to Heaven,” “Raise your Voice” and “The Life I never Lead,” lets just say the rest is a soulful, hip-shaking, sparkly production that will have you clapping your hands, tapping your feet and praying for the show to never end.
Sister Act The Musical is running at The Grand Opera House Belfast, to get tickets visit goh.co.uk