Bill Buckhurst’s lively and genuinely entertaining production is a joy to watch – but it can’t hide the fact that the show is ever so slightly too long.
Jennifer Saunder, Beverley Knight, Lesley Joseph, Clive Rowe and Lizzie Bea all in the same show is a treat indeed! But this new revival of Sister Act is a joy to behold in itself to behold: lots of energy, plenty of laughs and really highlights the values of community, friendship and the unexpectedness of life to great effect.
Based on the popular film starring Whoopi Goldberg (who was also set to join this production but due to many factors was unable to), it follows the story of Deloris a singer who finds herself in a sticky situation having witnessed her ex-boyfriend commit murder – forcing her to go into hiding in a local convent as part of her protection. While initially reluctant to become part of this world, Delores soon makes an impact and helps to fight for the convent’s survival as well as her own.
It has to be said there is plenty to be enjoyed about this production thanks to the playfulness of Bill Buckhurst’s production – who also manages to really draw out the comedy of the script that works well in this fabulous cast’s favour – particularly in the first act. Morgan Large’s set and costume designs enhance the sheer fun that this production exudes, which along with Alistair David’s vibrant and hilarious choreography (just watch out for ‘When I Find My Baby’, ‘Fabulous Babyy’ and ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ for example) will ensure you leave the theatre beaming from ear to ear.
However, it does have to be said that given the simplicity of the story it does feel as though the show is slightly bloated in particular during the second act which does take it down slightly energy wise and seems to be one too many reprises that feel like fillers. This being said – it seems as though everyone on the stage is having the time of their lives, which is then reflected through the audience’s reactions to numbers such as ‘Take Me to Heaven’ for example was electrifying.
In terms of standout performances, there are plenty to be found. Jennifer Saunders (as you would expect) as Mother Superior has great bite to her comedy timing, providing many of the best lines in the show, while seeing Lesley Joseph rapping ‘Sugarhill Gang’ was something I genuinely didn’t know I needed to see and experience – and I’m so glad I did as she looked as though she was having the time of her life doing it. Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert proved once again just how talented she is with her rendition of ‘The Life I Never Led’ nearly bringing the roof off the Eventim Apollo and being a real highlight. Clive Rowe has real charm and sincerity as Eddie – the police officer who tries to help Deloris – his vocals are ideal for the soulful ‘I Could Be That Guy’.
But oh my goodness, what a performance Beverley Knight as Deloris delivers. Filled with sass, genius comic timing and of course powerful vocals – I could quite happily watch her play this role over and over again! Throughout everything she really is on top of her game and proves what a force she is to be reckoned with.
Sister Act is certainly a show that will make you forget your troubles for a couple of hours and while Beverley Knight and Jennifer Saunders might not be travelling with it as it embarks on its UK tour – make sure you catch it at a venue near you as it has plenty to offer!
By Emma Clarendon
To find out more about the UK tour visit: https://www.sisteractthemusical.co.uk/uk-tour/