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1st Night TV: Making Whoopi at Sister Act Opening

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Whoopi Goldberg made a special appearance at the London Palladium on Tuesday (2 June 2009, previews from 7 May) for the West End opening of the new musical version of her 1992 film Sister Act, which stars Patina Miller as Deloris van Cartier, the role created on screen by Goldberg (See Review Round-up, 3 Jun 2009).

Transplanted to 1970s Philadelphia, Sister Act tells the story of disco diva Deloris, 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, played by Sheila Hancock (Maggie Smith in the film).

Along with our photographer (See 1st Night Photos, 7 May 2009), our TV partners at Reelkandi were at there on opening night with cameras rolling at the London Palladium and at the post-show party at Floridita. Video coverage includes interviews with Whoopi Goldberg, as well as stars Patina Miller and Sheila Hancock, legendary composer Alan Menken and first night guests like Sinitta, Jenni Falconer, Richard Arnold and Cilla Black.

The 1992 Hollywood film of Sister Act grossed over $200million worldwide and spawned a sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. The musical – which, in an earlier version in the US, was seen in Pasadena, California in 2006 and in Atlanta, Georgia in 2007 – 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.

In addition to Miller and Hancock, the cast also features Ian Lavender (Monsignor Howard), Chris Jarman (Shank), Ako Mitchell (Eddie), Katie Rowley Jones (Sister Mary Robert), Claire Greenway (Sister Mary Patrick] and Julia Sutton (Sister Mary Lazarus).


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