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Sister Act The Musical Review

Lynda Moyo isn’t normally in the mood for musicals, but this one made her change her tune

Written by . Published on October 7th 2011.

Sister Act The Musical Review

THE thought of a staged version of the 1992 film put an immediate smile on my face because musicals emit endorphins - whether you want them or not.

Usually the first to shoot down jolly stories interpreted through overzealous singing, this one had me cornered from start to finish. In a good way.

Reminiscing back to a wide-eyed nine-year-old version of me glued to the screen, there was nothing I wanted more than to be one of Whoopi Goldberg’s all-singing and dancing, happy-go-lucky nuns.

The song ‘Raise Your Voice’ brings this scene to life. If it doesn’t give you goose bumps, you’re not human.

Thanks, in part, to Whoopi herself (a co-producer of the stage production), Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy is now touring the country with the latest stop being Manchester’s Opera House.

Sister Act the musicalSister Act the musical

Rising star Cynthia Erivo takes the lead role as Deloris Van Cartier – disco diva turned naughty nun. She’s put in a convent as part of a police protection programme, having witnessed her mobster boyfriend’s part in a gangland killing.

In keeping with the film’s plot, the vast majority of this production focuses on Van Cartier’s time in the convent as she comes to terms with the Spartan lifestyle of a nun whilst in hiding. Similarly, the Reverend Mother, played by former Coronation Street actress Denise Black, struggles to accept Van Cartier’s wild ways. The tale is brought to life with sharp performances from both women, backed up by an equally energetic supporting cast.

The northern crowd also appreciated the presence of former Brookside actor Michael Starke on stage. ‘Sinbad can sing?’ I hear you cry. No not really, but his naturally witty personality is perfectly suited to the role as Monsignor O’Hara.

The musical uses an entirely different soundtrack to the film, so don’t be expecting the film classics such as ‘I Will Follow Him’ or ‘My Guy (My God)’. I personally thought I would miss them but ten minutes in and I didn’t even care.

Sister Act the musicalSister Act the musical

This score has more of a disco vibe in the scenes around Van Cartier’s pre and post-nun life and even a touch of comedy hip-hop thrown in at times courtesy of the oldest nun Sister Mary Lazarus, played by the hilarious Jacqueline Clarke. Most importantly it all works together, in perfect harmony.

Whilst slightly slow to start – think Dream Girls rather than Sister Act - it didn’t take long for the show to get in full flamboyant flow before reaching its peak during the scene in which Van Cartier, under the pseudonym of Sister Mary Clarence, takes on the nun choir and subsequently teaches them how to sing.

The song ‘Raise Your Voice’ brings this scene to life. If it doesn’t give you goose bumps, you’re not human.

In fact the entire production was pretty breathtaking. Set changes were swift, American accents didn’t falter once and costumes became so elaborately dazzling that by the end every face in the audience displayed a squinting smile.

With the entire theatre roaring with applause and on its feet at curtain call, it was no wonder really. This was a truly uplifting show for men or women, old or young.

And even those who don’t like musicals.

See Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy at Manchester’s Opera House until 15 October. Click here for tickets.

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