Tuesday, March 5

Sister Act – Birmingham Hippodrome

Immaculate!

If you see only one Holy Catholic mass this season, make sure it is “Sister Act – A Divine Musical Comedy” at the Birmingham Hippodrome! It’s a joyous, elegant, comic romp riven through with the kind evangelical zeal usually only witnessed at the most passionate of churches.

In the beginning was the film and the film, according to most critics, was good, and Whoopi Goldberg was, according to those same critics, “heavenly”. That was 1992 and now, thirty years later, the story is reborn and praise the lord it’s a hit! The Good Book by Cheri Steinkeller and Bill Steinkeller wipes out memories of the film whilst still retaining its joyful, liberating tone. Mix in Alan Mencken’s music and Glenn Slater’s lyrics and you have nothing short of a miracle of musical theatre!

Okay, so the story flagged a bit in the second half, but this was more than compensated for by some spot-on comedy nun-slapstick. What’s not to like as we see a vigilante sister bring down a gang of sleazy villains with a couple of incense burners used like nunchucks (nun pun intended…). That alone was worth a penny in the collection bowl.

Topping the bill is the outstanding Lesley Joseph and her performance is a revelation – perhaps even a book of Revelations! A lifetime of experience packed into a perfect performance. Each line and look was a bull’s-eye. And the very Sister herself was Sandra Marvin who holds her own in the quirky Covent and casts memories of Whoopi into the wilderness for more than forty days and nights.

Photo: Manuel Harlan

Clive Rowe completes the comic trinity with an awesome turn as the police officer with the holy hots for our star nun and delivers an adroit spot in Act Two with one fabulous, miraculous double costume change you have to see!

The gaggle of nuns (I think that’s the correct group pronoun) are an eclectic group of comic actresses including a stand out performances from Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Roberts delivering her solo number with such pure, soul touching clarity providing a welcome, poignant moment of sepulchral clarity amidst all the surrounding mayhem.

And then the producers said let there be light and there was light. Elegantly designed by the reliable Tim Mitchell, plus a perfect sound design from Tom Marshall and spot on costumes and set from Morgan Large. The entire creation was benevolently shepherded by his Holiness Bill Buckhurst and I think they such all be praised loudly every Sunday to the end of time.

Sadly, Sister Act does not run forever and forever but only till 15th October so don your wimple and habit and grab yourself a ticket! https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/sister-act/

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 4th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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