The one about a girl who witnesses a murder and ends up hiding in a convent with Nuns?
Sister Act the Musical became the musical marmite of the West End when it opened, pride of place at The London Palladium. Now several years on the show is touring the UK with a new cast, a new set, and some new numbers… and I’m raising my voice on how grateful I am.
I had forgotten how much fun this production is, and find myself yet again singing the songs over and over in my head and taking every opportunity to play the songs on my iPod at every moment. You will usually find me quite scathing about musicals which have derived from film mainly due to the poor plotlines that have been filled out with lame unmemorable songs that aid or do little to move the story along. What is fantastic about Sister Act, is that story is entertaining, the music by Alan Menken and Lyrics by Glenn Slater are creative and inventive, and there are tonnes of characters to keep enough variety in the show and even the most grumpy of audience member amused.
Patina Miller who created the role of Deloris Van Cartier, the famed role of Whoopi Goldberg, became a huge success and later went to open the Broadway production in the same part. Miller gave a fantastic performance which no one could doubt probably aided the success of the run. Thinking this performance could not be match the producers must have been absolutely delighted when 25 year old Cynthia Erivo walked into the audition room. Erivo gives a performance to rival and dare I say beat that of Miller. The pocket rocket of a girl sings with such gusto the disco diva sound has you dancing in your seat whilst her belt in the more emotionally sensitive songs leads you to really feel the turmoil of her character. Once more, and this is echoed across the company, the energy of the performance is infectious and even a notorious quiet matinee crowd, found themselves whooping along and applauding loudly.
Julie Atherton takes on the role of Sister Mary Robert, and her rendition of “The Life I never led” is a wonderful moment of Musical Theatre as she draws the audience in on the Wycombe Swan stage. Kadiff Kirwan took on the comedic role of Police officer Eddie, and danced heartily through the quick changing costume number “I could be that guy” to great appreciation. There was a genuine pairing between Kirwan and Erivo that made the final kiss even more rewarding.
When a production goes on tour there can often a conception that the production will get dumbed down and lack the drive that a West End Production can offer. I can safely say how wrong this theory is with this stunning shiny production of Sister Act, with promotes more energy and entertainment that a lot of the current shows in residence in London.
A great afternoon.