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If you’re looking for a feel good show to raise your spirits, empower your sisterhood and have you dancing in the pews – then look no further than Sister Act. The best-loved production is inviting the congregation to join them at The Regent Theatre this week, until Saturday, September 30, and you don’t want to miss it.
Based on the 1992 film of the same name, the story follows sassy nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, who witnesses a murder committed by her gangster boyfriend and finds herself hiding out in a convent. Under the alias Sister Mary Clarence, she transforms the convent’s dreary choir into a powerhouse of soulful singing. As you might imagine, hilarity and heartwarming moments ensue.
The comedy musical has some big boots to fill when it comes to casting, but Landi Oshinowo does a brilliant job at capturing the essence of Whoopi Goldberg’s feisty, strong-willed and larger than life character. Her vocals were wonderfully suited to the Motown, soul and disco inspired score from Alan Menken, and she owned the stage in almost every scene.
Similarly, Maggie Smith originally portrayed Mother Superior, but sitcom royalty Lesley Joseph’s take on the stern and conservative nun was nothing short of spectacular. Her comic timing was impeccable, particularly after her rendition of I Haven’t Got A Prayer, a track which showcased her vocal ability and acting prowess in equal measure.
The supporting cast was equally impressive, with standout performances from Lizzie Bea as young nun Sister Mary Robert. Her portrayal reminded me a lot of Hairspray’s Tracy Turnblad, so it was no surprise to hear this is a role she’s played previously. Her belt is incredible, as seen in The Life I Never Led, while a special mention must go to Sister Mary Patrick, portrayed by Isabel Canning, whose effervescent energy and comedic flair stole the spotlight in several scenes.
I think the audience favourite had to go to Alfie Parker, though, for his role as ‘Steady’ Eddie Souther, the timid police officer with big dreams and a crush on Deloris. I Could Be That Guy was a real highlight of the show, alongside his dazzling uniform in the final numbers. His mannerisms had everyone giggling and he brought a real lightness and heartwarming feeling to the show.
It’s impossible to discuss Sister Act without mentioning the music, though those expecting to hear the likes of My Guy (My God) or Shout may find themselves disappointed. However the musical’s original score, composed by Alan Menken (Disney’s Aladdin/Enchanted), was impressive in its own right, offering a lively blend of gospel, R&B, and traditional musical theatre. Songs like Raise Your Voice and Take Me To Heaven filled the theatre with an infectious energy, while Spread The Love Around paired harmonious vocals with glittering costumes that made for a glitzy finale.
Alongside all of the sequins and singing, though, were some incredibly tender moments of sisterhood, friendship and redemption. There were some really touching moments where solidarity and strength prevailed, and not only did the nuns find their voice in the choir, but in order to advocate for themselves and what they stand for, too.
With soulful music, lively choreography, glittering costumes and a heartwarming storyline, Sister Act is a truly heavenly production that is as joyous as it is uplifting. You can catch Sister Act until September 30 at The Regent Theatre. Buy your tickets here.