Sunday, July 21

Sister Act – Storyhouse Chester

Hold onto your rosaries folks, Philadelphia’s favourite sisters are in the building, ready to bring the musical version of the 1992 hit film vividly to life.

Sister Act is a vibrant, feel-good show and it’s easy to see why it has become a staple for am-dram group, full of energetic ensemble numbers, humour and heart.

The musical, with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater respectively, and sparklingly directed by Bill Buckhurst, largely sticks to the film’s plot. Club singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses her gangster boyfriend Curtis commit murder and is placed into witness protection in a convent, leading to much fish-out-of-water hilarity. The cheerful but tuneless nuns soon tap into Deloris’ talent as a singer to inject some oomph into their choir despite the misgivings of Mother Superior.

Landi Oshinowo is in fantastic voice as our leading lady Deloris. It feels like she takes a bit of time to ‘warm-up’ into the role but, as she grapples with her new morning routine in the convent, she brings bags of sass and soul to Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow’s most reluctant sister.

Wendi Peters similarly wrings the humour out of the strait-laced Reverend Mother, tasked with protecting Deloris, silencing dissent with the most withering of looks and delivering her songs with aplomb, with warm, Helen Reddy-esque vocals.

The ensemble of nuns is spectacular, delivering all the idiosyncrasies you would hope for and bringing lots of physical comedy to their godly calling, whether getting to grips with Deloris’ choreography, or wielding incense burners like ninjas when Curtis and his goons come calling.

Eloise Runnette and Isabel Canning stand out as the wallflower postulant Sister Mary Robert and over-enthusiastic Sister Mary Lazarus so adored in the film version. And Alfie Parker’s turn as the cop determined to protect Deloris and bring Curtis to justice, ‘Steady’ Eddie Souther, is an absolute show-stealer, with his Act 1 number, ‘I could be that guy’ nearly flooring the audience.

The orchestra matches our nuns in energy, under the baton of musical director of Tom Slade and Alistair David’s choreography suits our ensemble very well. The other stars of the show are Morgan Large’s set and costume design, a riot of colour (despite the ‘oversized penguin dresses’ that Deloris bemoans), nicely complemented by Tim Mitchell’s lighting design and bringing in some touches of theatrical genius.

Not everything is as heavenly as one would hope. Some of the fight scenes are a bit clunky and there are a few missed opportunities here and there in the comedy.

Nevertheless, it’s a joyous show that will leave even the most devout with a smile on their face and maybe a song in their heart.

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Reviewer: Lou Steggals

Reviewed: 25th June 2024

North West End UK rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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