Sister Act - September 2016
My sisters and me
Hallelujah, Praise the Lord! Sister Act is back and it's better than ever!
Based on the upbeat 1992 hit movie starring Whoopie Goldberg, and directed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, this funky, feel-good adaptation is food for the soul and will have you grooving in your seat from start to finish.
The story tells us of Deloris Van Cartier, a downtown lounge singer who, after realising her club-owner boyfriend Curtis is actually a dangerous mobster, is sent by the police to hide in a convent until they can be sure she is safe. During her confinement, she befriends a group of nuns whom she connects with through music, inspiring a personal journey of growth and freedom.
The opening scene centres around Mother Superior, played by Karen Mann, a conservative, dedicated nun whose purpose is to serve her church and commit to the will of God.
She is surrounded by a beautiful shabby-chic church setting, designed by Matthew Wright, and it is through her intermittent monologues that a continuous narrative is achieved, with a focus on the importance of modesty, community and most importantly, friendship.
We are then introduced to Deloris, played by X Factor winner Alexandra Burke who first rose to fame in 2008 and became one of the biggest selling artists of the decade.
Deloris is a big-haired, cool chick with dreams of stardom, which she feels are only made possible through her naughty married boyfriend Curtis Jackson.
Alexandra performs well as an actress, but even better as a singer.
While some of the initial scenes felt slightly forced, the softening of the character allowed Alexandra to express herself in a more genuine way towards the end of the show. It is always nerve-wracking when a reality TV star takes on a professional acting role, but Alexandra seems to have found her niche, and consistently delivered a passionate performance.
Curtis Jackson, played by Aaron Lee Lambert, is quite frankly sex on legs (in flares).
His gorgeous 'fro, checked 70s suit and deep, soulful voice totally disguises the fact that he's actually the show’s villain.
His smooth rendition of When I Find My Baby had a hint of The Commodores about it, which seemed to resonate especially well with the female audience members (and a couple of the males).
The iconic nuns were as uptempo and joyful as the ones in the original film.
The lovely and jolly Sister Mary Patrick played by Susannah Van Den Berg was a true comedian, providing hilarious slapstick moments from start to finish.
Sister Mary Theresa, played by Allison Harding, also stole the show as an elderly yet feisty choir-mistress with a unique talent for gangster-rap and fantastic hip hop dance moves.
Many of the actors doubled up as musicians, making the show especially interesting to watch.
Police officers were equipped with sexy saxophones, nuns were sporting flutes and clarinets, and every scene featured an upstage conga player, adding a unique dynamic to the overall performance.
The direction and choreography were sublime.
Each movement, whether it be a simple walk, hand gesture or full on 70s dance move seemed to be planned down to the last detail.
Director Craig Revel Horwood is renowned for his perfectionism and hard work, and it certainly shone through on this occasion.
I was, however, slightly surprised at the Strictly star’s behaviour in the stalls.
Craig and his friends were sat directly in front of me, and while I appreciate his enthusiasm for his own artwork, it might be argued that due to his wolf-whistling and copy-cat dance moves, more eyes were on him this evening than on the stage.
What struck me the most about this adaptation of Sister Act was the focus on the female relationships.
The modern message of Deloris escaping the clutches of a bad man and finding comfort within a sanctuary of women was especially emphasised - possibly to highlight the importance of personal freedom and independence, as well as friendship and femininity.
This was not only heart-warming, but delivered the message that whether you're a saint or sinner, there's something important to be said for sisterhood.
Sister Act is showing at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, September.
New production Sister Act to hit Hippodrome
PREVIEW: Bodyguard sensation Alexandra Burke is returing to the Bristol Hippodrome in a new production of Sister Act.
It will play the city centre theatre from Monday to Saturday, September 19-24.
Miss Burke will star as Deloris Van Cartier in the national tour of the hit musical comedy which is directed and choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood.
Craig said: “I am truly thrilled that Alexandra is going to be our leading lady in this all new production of Sister Act.
"Alexandra is such a fantastic singer and actress that I know she is going to be amazing.
"I couldn’t think of anyone better to play the role of the smart and funny Deloris”.
Alexandra said: “I’m over the moon to be given the opportunity to play the wonderful Deloris in Sister Act.
"It’s such an iconic role and a part I’ve always wanted to play.
"I love touring the UK and I’m thrilled to be working with Craig and his amazing creative team.
"I can’t wait to get started!”
Miss Burke is current starring as Rachel Marron in the national tour of The Bodyguard, a part she also played in the West End.
She originally rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor.
Her debut number one single Hallelujah sold more than a million copies in the UK, a first for a British female soloist.
This show is based on the smash hit movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith and tells the hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder.
Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent!
Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.
Sister Act features original music by the 8 time Oscar and Tony Award winner Alan Menken.
Alan’s credits include the films and stage musicals of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and many more.
This all new production of Sister Act has musical supervision and arrangements by Sarah Travis, set and costume design is by Matthew Wright, with lighting design by Richard G Jones and sound design by Richard Brooker.
Tickets from £18.90 with concessions at certain performances.