For fans of the 1992 film, the story is very close in comparison. A nightclub singer, Deloris Van Cartier, witnesses a murder by her then boyfriend and goes into witness protection. The only place the police feel she’ll be safe is in a convent, where she meets an energetic bunch of nuns that need some help in perfecting their choir. Much to the dismay of Mother Superior, the nuns become more confident in their abilities and eventually become local celebrities, leading to Deloris to be found by the very person she is trying to hide from. All in good fun, the story follows a deep friendship between the Sister’s who all share a mutual passion for music.
Cynthia Erivo dons those infamous purple boots as Deloris Van Cartier belting out disco beats with ‘Take Me to Heaven’ and crowd pleaser ‘Fabulous, Baby!’ Her stellar vocals can truly be appreciated in the heartfelt number ‘Sister Act’, simply just her, on stage with a gentle spotlight, the audience are opened up to a softer, more emotional side to the character that Erivo handles with a degree of vulnerability, allowing the development of her relationships to flourish. Her comedic timing is genuinely warm and inviting. Watch out Manhattan and Hollywood, this girl really is a star.
Mother Superior is an important character that Denise Black outlines with great conviction. As the head of the convent, she also seems at the head of the cast. Her experience allows the complex portrayal of the, eventually gentle, Mother Superior to shine. Strong and level-headed, eventually she even succumbs to the charm of Deloris.
Sister Mary Robert and Sister Mary Patrick, Julie Atherton and Laurie Scarth, respectively are an outstanding pair of supporting characters and actresses. Atherton completely controls the audience in ‘The Life I Never Led’, a chance for the character to display her feelings, something that needed to be addressed since the cut of ‘That’s How I Got the Calling’ from the London production. A terrific moment during the show where Atherton can really display a strong range of vocals, with a smooth tone and pitch.
Alan Menken’s music fits the style of the musical and story to near perfection, his soulful, R&B music coupled with clever lyrics from Glenn Slater are a combination for a memorable score. During ensemble numbers such as ‘Sunday Morning Fever’ and ‘Raise Your Voice’, the true talent from cast and creative can be appreciated as a whole, with Erivo shining as a fabulous leading lady.
Catch Sister Act at Birmingham Hippodrome through Saturday October 20, where the current UK tour ends.