For a show that opened in the West End in 2009 and on Broadway just over a year ago, Sister Act has come a long way in a short time. Whoopi Goldberg mightn’t have brilliant ideas about everything, but with this one, the lady was certainly on to a winner.
A good, strong show from the Ambassador Group blows all competition out of the water. Last week’s Dancing in the Streets is a mere speck of dust compared to the vision, energy and class coming out of Sister Act’s metaphorical pores.
Based on the film of the same name, it tells the tale of aspiring club singer Doris Carter — or the infinitely more glamorous Delores van Cartier, as she fancies herself — who is forced into hiding in a nunnery after witnessing her gangster boyfriend commit murder.
With hair as big as her attitude, a clash with Mother Superior is inevitable. But will things all work out for the best?
In what has already been a good year already for fantastic female performances on the Liverpool stage (think Legally Blonde‘s Faye Brooks, and Streetcar‘s Amanda Drew), Cynthia Erivo is a treat as Delores. Full of Seventies-style diva sass, a boundless energy, a voice to die for and an incredible smile, she is the true star of the show — and shows don’t often come with an ensemble this talented.
I didn’t think Denise Black was doing anything for me as Mother Superior, but when it came to the part where she came to acknowledge Delores among the sisters, I was bawling. Damn musicals.
The set made deceptively simple transformations, and looked best serving as different parts of the convent. Bless Our Show, a wonderfully sweet number where the nuns run into Delores’s bedroom at night, seemed a bit of a modern-day tribute to the Sound of Music’s My Favourite Things. Whether the references to Donna Summer have always been in the show or also seemed a fitting tribute due to the show’s funk and soul ethos, I don’t know, but it was a nice touch nonetheless. With music by Alan Menken, Sister Act owes as much to disco as it does to Disney, and straddled those two seemingly incongruous worlds to good effect.
By the end, this show is death by sequins and gold lame — literally everything sparkles. It’s not often a show comes along with this kind of energy and heart, filled with positive messages and an almost cartoonish good vs evil moral to the story, but Sister Act proves irrisistable.
The plot is true to the movie, although made (even more) family friendly and good-natured. It’s somewhat simplistic, and some of the slower, solo numbers seem to be little more than filler, although the charm of the performers (and some very inventive costume changes and fun dance routines) gets them through with no problems.
Sister Act is on until Saturday (June 2).