I was affected by my own Sister Act on Monday evening, when the musical of the same name came to the Hull New Theatre stage.
My long-time theatre buddy, my sister Chrissy, deserted me to have fun in the sun abroad, leaving her sisterly gap to be filled by my good pal, Barbs.
The story starts in 1977 Philadelphia, US, where wannabe singer Deloris Van Cartier (Landi Oshinowo), witnesses her married lover, the thuggish Curtis Jackson (Ian Gareth-Jones), commit murder.
Deloris, realising she has been seen by Curtis, heads for the police station and into the protective custody of my fave character on the night, “Steady” Eddie Souther (Alfie Parker).
Later on, Eddie becomes the hero of the hour, bless him.
Meanwhile, Deloris is packed off to a nunnery to keep her safe from Curtis’s vengeance.
The scene where she escapes in a sort of Tuk-Tuk with Curtis’s thugs running behind, is really amusing.
With her magnificent mop of hair – à la singer Diana Ross in full flow – and wearing knee-high purple boots and a gold-sequinned mini dress, Deloris raises more than a few eyebrows when she is presented to the Mother Superior (Lesley Joseph).
It’s in the convent that the stage setting comes alive, with a huge backdrop of “stained glass” windows, with skyscrapers when the story demanded it.
This illuminated backdrop provided most of the atmosphere on the night, with minimal disruption to the on-stage action. Everything just sort of happened in front of our very eyes, without us realising it. Very clever.
In the nunnery, the costumes were obviously less colourful than the windows, and even Deloris dressed down during her time there.
The Mother Superior, upon learning that Deloris could sing, set her the task of improving the atrocious, out-of-tune singing of the nunnery’s choir. Of course, Deloris being Deloris, she soon has the nuns rapping, dancing and generally behaving most un-nun-like.
A couple of very amusing scenes came after the interval, when thugs TJ (Bradley Judge), Pablo (Damian Buhagiar) and Joey (Callum Martin) show us how they would seductively woo the nuns, to gain entry into the nunnery, to get to Deloris.
And I laughed out loud at the Mother Superior’s bedtime scene, in which she is obviously having sleepless nights at Deloris’s disruption of her nunnery. Joseph, dressed in dressing gown, slippers and nightcap, walked dejectedly on to the stage, looking like a grumpy little Smurf. No-one else could have carried it off.
The costumes in Sister Act vary enormously in style and colour – from dull to dazzling.
Many original songs are sung, with Oshinowo’s voice being the stand-out on the night. An orchestra, under the direction of Neil Macdonald, added tuneful accompaniment.
It is a happy ending all round, and love is definitely in the air when Deloris kisses … my lips are sealed.
A colourful, rip-roaring show that, at the finale, had most of the audience on their feet showing their approval.
Running until Saturday, September 23rd, 2023; 7.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees on Thursday, 21st and Saturday, 23rd. Tickets cost from £20. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 18th September 2023
North West End UK Rating: