The musical revival starring Beverley Knight and Jennifer Saunders arrives in London – but what do the critics think?
The Upcoming: ***** “Every cast member excels at infusing the whole show with fun and vitality. Cracking jokes along the way amid their shimmering devotion, the nuns turn the comedy into exciting entertainment. Special mention must be made of the stern and hilariously acerbic personality of Jennifer Saunders as Mother Superior.”
The Stage: *** “This much-anticipated London revival is stuffed with disco and soul-infused tunes and features an appealing double act from Jennifer Saunders and Beverley Knight.”
Evening Standard: *** “let’s thank God – or whoever – for Beverley Knight, whose vocal power and sassy stage presence lift a hodgepodge of a musical into something much brighter. Saunders’s dry, acerbic head nun is a useful counterbalance to Knight’s ebullience, even if she’s not used here to best advantage. And Settle, Rowe and Lizzie Bea as doubting young postulant Sister Mary Robert all give stunning vocal performances that transcend the limits of the characters they are given. I know: faint praise.”
The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “It is a long night at close to three hours and, though smoothly directed by Buckhurst, the show never quite balances its expositional content with the performance scenes that everyone is really waiting to see. Sister Act gets a lot of things right, it is bouncy, often uplifting and much sillier even than the original film. And while it may lack any real jeopardy, the story of people finding their true selves through song provides an appropriate musical theatre feel-good finale.”
Time Out: *** “Saunders feels miscast too: her distracted, doddery schtick is fine but she’s not a great foil to Knight’s Deloris: you never get the feeling her Mother Superior disapproves of the newcomer any more than she disapproves of everything else. Telly stalwart Lesley Joseph is fun as the grouchy but witty Mary Lazarus and ‘Greatest Showman’ star Settle is a hoot as the pathologically cheerful Mary Patrick. Rowe is fine as nice-guy cop Eddie – you wouldn’t say he had much chemistry with Knight, but he packs almost as much vocal firepower as she does, and it’s all worth it for that lightning change.”
London Theatre1: **** “The supporting roles are quite superb – Lizzie Bea’s Sister Mary Robert has a predictable storyline as the character who starts out by interpreting Mother Superior’s call for humility to mean timidity but ends up being one of the loudest voices in the choir. Lesley Joseph’s Sister Mary Lazarus receives some hearty applause for delivering “the funky bits” with considerable aplomb. Keala Settle as Sister Mary Patrick puts her commanding vocals to excellent use.”
The Independent: ***** “Even without its original Hollywood star, the jolly musical’s return to the London stage is a complete treat.”
West End Best Friend: **** “Sister Act is a fun show featuring a lively score filled with clever lyrics and songs you’ll be humming on your way home. The cast each give good performances in a show that, whilst not breaking boundaries for musical theatre, unites audiences with a universally good night out. “
London Theatre.co.uk: ***** “Beverley Knight is giving a performance as Dolores van Cartier that makes you think, “Whoopi Goldberg, who?” The role requires reinvention for the stage, and from her otherworldly vocals to her impeccable comedic timing, Knight absolutely redefines and becomes this iconic character.”
The Times: *** “Knight, who only recently stepped down from that eccentric but tuneful West End show The Drifters Girl, certainly has the chops to handle the ebullient Seventies-themed score by the composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater.”
The Daily Mail: **** “I can’t see it getting approval from The Holy See just yet; but Sister Act remains blissfully silly stuff and my advice is, as Saunders says, ‘get thee to a nunnery… and quickly too!’”
Sister Act the Musical will play at the Eventim Apollo until the 28th August 2022. To book tickets click here.