Musical comedy is at New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday
Uplifting is definitely the word I would use if asked to sum up this show in a single word.
Directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, the multi-talented cast of ‘Sister Act’ sing and dance their way through the show, playing a variety of instruments in addition to seamlessly changing characters from nuns to down-and-outs to gangsters as the scene alternates between the convent Church, Curtis’ Night Club and the local police precinct in 1970s Philadelphia, following the main character of Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence, played by Alexandra Burke, as she goes into hiding after witnessing her lover shoot one of his ‘staff.’
Along the way, despite the misgivings of the Mother Superior charmingly played by the trumpet-wielding Karen Mann, she inspires the previously tuneless group of nuns into a coherent choir eventually selected to sing before the Pope.
The original music by Alan Menken is wonderful, some reflecting his Disney pedigree such as “The Life I Never Led” sung by Sarah Goggin as postulant Sister Mary Robert.
The comedy is excellent and there are some memorable moments which had the audience in stitches such as the first time we meet the nuns; all credit must go to the cast who managed to sing so well out of tune! I particularly liked the scene where local police officer, ‘sweaty’ Eddie, played by Jon Robyns is joined by a group of tramps and confesses his love for Deloris in “I Could Be That Guy” during which he is transformed not once, but twice, from cop to John Travolta (as in Saturday Night Fever) and back to cop again while still singing and playing guitar. Velcro must be a godsend to costume designers! I was also very impressed by the ‘transient’ who managed to play the clarinet while lying on his/her back.
Act II continues with Curtis discovering where Deloris is in hiding and, with his men disguised as nuns, break into the church and attempt to kill Deloris only to find that the sisters rally round to protect her. He is eventually overcome by Eddie whose action finally wins over Deloris.
Undoubtedly a popular singer with a powerful voice, Alexandra Burke seemed slightly out of her comfort zone as a comedic actress possibly overcompensating at times and it was down to clever direction which helped her carry off this role rather than her acting ability. That said, Alexandra is on stage for most the show so her Deloris certainly deserved her dream of a sparkling white dress and fur stole which she wore in the finale.
This is a show not to be missed.
By Anne Horsburgh
November 29, 2016