Hollywood star Whoopi Goldberg (pictured), who starred in the original 1992 screen version of Sister Act, has signed up to co-produce the new stage musical adaptation which, as previously reported (See News, 7 Nov 2008), will receive its West End premiere at the London Palladium on 2 June 2009 (previews from 7 May).

Speaking about her involvement with the show, whose production is led by Stage Entertainment, Goldberg said: “If you are fortunate enough to be a part of something wonderful, I feel it's important to pass the baton. The best way for me to be a part of this new incarnation of Sister Act is to make sure everyone knows it's happening. The stage version of the show is fresh and new and I'm beyond thrilled to be part of it.”

Sister Act tells the story of Deloris, a disco diva who, after witnessing a murder and being put in protective police custody in a convent, brings some soul to the church choir, much to the initial consternation of the Mother Superior.

The 1992 Hollywood film of Sister Act, which co-starred Maggie Smith as the Mother Superior alongside Goldberg, grossed over $200million worldwide and spawned a sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. No casting has yet been announced for the West End musical, which transplants the action to 1970s Philadelphia.

Joop Van Den Ende, president supervisory board of Stage Entertainment, said: “I am delighted to be working with Whoopi to bring Sister Act to the historic London Palladium. I have long admired her work and, as a theatrical producer, have wanted to bring Deloris, one of her classic roles, to the stage for a long, long time. With the whole Stage Entertainment group focused on next summer's opening, we cannot wait to get working with our world class creative team on this unique and exciting project."

It will be the second screen-to-stage musical in the West End for Stage Entertainment, which is also behind the multi award-winning transfer of Broadway hit Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The company has also produced High School Musical, Strictly Come Dancing Live!, Saturday Night Fever and Fame in the UK.

Sister Act - which, in an earlier version in the US, was seen in Pasadena, California in 2006 and in Atlanta, Georgia last year – has an original score by Alan Menken, best known for his work on Disney films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, with lyrics by his long-time collaborator Glenn Slater. The book is by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner.

The production is directed by Peter Schneider, designed by Klara Zieglerova and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast, with musical supervision by Michael Kosarin, costumes by Lez Brotherston, sound by Mick Potter, lighting by Natasha Katz and musical direction by Nick Skilbeck.

At the Palladium, Sister Act will replace the Jeremy Sams’ revival of The Sound of Music, which is currently booking at the Palladium to 28 February 2009 (See News, 6 Jun 2008) and has been running since 15 November 2006 (previews from 3 November). Sister Act is initially booking through to February 2010.

- by Terri Paddock