It’s pretty audacious rhyming ‘Jehovah’ with ‘Casanova’, though you have to admire such imagination. And this show happily takes huge liberties: nuns in lamé –nuns who go from fiendishly awful signing to heavenly choir, then back again. But when a would be showgirl witnesses a murder, obviously the first place you think of to hide her is a convent…
Staging is impressive, with the vast serenity of the convent beautifully realized, its stained glass, and a Madonna of Buddha proportions. And you cannot fault the score: intelligent lyrics and so many joyous numbers, as well as the range, from poignancy: "The Life I Never Led" sung gloriously by Sister Mary Robert (Julie Atherton) to hilarity and the cleverly twisted lyrics of just what villain Curtis will do "When I Find My Baby."
Backing trio, henchmen Joey (Daniel Stockton), Pablo Gavin Alex), TJ (Tyrone Huntley) nearly bring the house down with the over the top yet affectionately accurate choreography. Gravelly voiced Cavin Cornwall is wickedly charismatic, but sadly although Edward Baruwa does his best as the putative hero, he cannot escape being ‘Sweaty Eddie’.
From Sinbad to Monsignor O’Hara (appropriately enough), Michael Starke adds a credible American accent to his comic timing. Meanwhile, Denise Black is indeed Superior as head of the convent, wit suitably dry, and Cynthia Erivo, the vivacious, excitable Deloris Van Cartier, genuinely is fabulous, showing why, and how, she worships song and dance.
Both pastiche and tribute to 70s disco, you suspect it’s fans of that era as well as fans of Sister Act who give it an almost all singing all dancing standing ovation. But after all, this has to be the ultimate feel good show.
- Carole Baldock