Tag Archives: Sister Act

Review Sister Act, Venue Cymru by Richard Evans

Venue Cymru, February 13th to 18th 2023

Directed by Bill Buckhurst, book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner, additional book material, Douglas Carter Beane

Produced by Jamie Wilson productions, Kevin McCollum, Gavin Kalin, Robbie Wilson and Curve

Music by Alan Mencken, Lyrics, Glenn Slater 

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

“This is a house of worship” “But this could be bigger than Broadway!  Bigger than Vegas!”

The premise behind Sister Act is great: a nightclub singer and gangsters moll on the run after witnessing a murder finds sanctuary in a convent and turns good while transforming their choir from a discordant mess to angelic sweetness. There is plenty of room for farce and slapstick in here and a thrilling ending to go with it.  

There are some excellent parts to this production, especially the singing, as you may expect from Sandra Marvin as Deloris, Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert and more surprisingly from Clive Rowe  as Steady Eddy who stole the show a couple of times.  There is a nice line in humour and some great costuming and choreography.  The set is imaginative and the change from nightclub to convent to police station and back again is slick.  Leslie Joseph is both assertive as she dictates what she expects of the order yet vulnerable as she sees firstly her church community and then the sacred traditions threatened by modernity and the whirlwind that is Deloris. 

As this play is based on the 1992 film of the same name, there are some tough acts to follow. Does this play manage to recapture the appeal of the film?  I have heard some people bemoan the fact that the music is totally different, but this underestimates the quality of the songfest here.  

However, from memory, one thing the film did well was get a good balance between respect and parody.  Like all institutions, the church should be open to being satirised but they are entitled to be represented fairly as well.  I am not sure the play does this as successfully as the film. I was not convinced with a lyric from the mother superior that questioned whether God existed.  In addition, the lyric where the young novice expressed the desire to choose rather than to obey misses the point which is that the monastic life is one where you chose to obey.  In both these examples the musical seems to underestimate the power and depth of personal devotion.  

The limited scope of the stage compared to the film set also precluded the emphasis on service to the community which was a major feature in the original and is something that any faith community should seek to do.  However, there was a willingness to debate the relative merits of a materialistic and spiritual lifestyle and plenty of respect was paid to those who have taken the vows of a nun.  Whenever a play has some gentle moralising, it is important to get these social issues comments correct.  

However, such criticism is perhaps unfair on a production that is primarily a musical show with a happy ending.  In this light, the play is highly successful.  All in all, this was a good nights entertainment and was warmly appreciated by the sell out crowd. 

Review Sister Act – Venue Cymru by Karis Clarke

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Click on the link below to listen to an audio review of this production by Karis Clarke.
This was my first outing to Venue Cymru and I wasn’t disappointed. Set on the stunning North Wales coastline the venue was alive with activity.  The atmosphere was light and expectation high as several audience members dashed around in habits!
Sister Act is the musical comedy based on the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, and, unless you were living in a convent yourself back in 1992,  it is highly unlikely you don’t have some knowledge of the film. (It’s popularity has ensured a regular repeats on TV at least once a year since circa 1995).
The stage version, unlike the film is set in the diva disco era of the 70’s and features original music from  ALAN MENKEN,  and the general feel of the show has  Mowtown vibe that is more than fitting to the outstanding vocal talents of  the lead.
Alexandra Burke in a scene from Sister Act
But it’s not all about the star in this show.  Deloris Van Cartier is a fantastic character full of witty one liners, side ways glances and comical physicality that Alexander Burke pulls off admirably. However the ensemble made the show for me. The combined talents of the supporting cast were superior. Acting, singing dancing and playing a variety of musical instruments on set allowed for a fluidity which you can sometimes loose with  larger productions. However this cast owned the stage, literally, they knew every inch.  Their management of the stage movement is a credit to Revel Horwood’s direction.  The scene changes were flawless and were choreographed to perfection.
Credit should also be given to the set design, the main stay an impressive church interior yet with the cleaver use of lighting and props  it easily faded into the background and made the transition between church,  nightclub, street, police station and back to church with very little effort.
The musicality was, as one of the songs repeats, ‘Fab -U- Lous  Baby,’ unfortunately this was also a slight disappointment for me as none of the songs from the movie were featured. So although the end of the play saw the majority of the full house clapping and on their feet I am sure if “I will follow him” had been played the roof would have lifted. However the original score was witty, befitting and more than enjoyable.  It’s easy to see how Alan Menken has Oscars under his belt.
Stand out moments of the show were any time the “gangsters” featured. (They stole the show a little bit from the nuns).  …..Joe Vetch (playing Eddie the sweaty police officer who saves the day) singing “I could be that guy ……Sister Mary Robert played by Alice Stokoe, who had a stunning voice singing a very Disney esq type song called “The Life I Never Had”…….. and the scene when the Sisters stand together for Deloris.
All in all there was nothing not to like, the show delivered everything thing it promised. One particular moment I found touching was on the final bow Alexandra Burke broke the fourth wall and you saw her thank the audience.  She genuinely seemed to appreciate the standing ovation they received and this shone through as she skipped off stage laughing with co cast not as Deloris but as herself and within those few seconds, in my eyes I saw  true star quality.
So unless you have lead in your feet and no soul in your heart I defy you not to enjoy this 4 stars production. Unfortunately for North Wales the runs ends on May 27th but you can still catch performances around the UK up until the 3rd September check www.sisteractuktour.co.uk for more details.
Starring ALEXANDRA BURKE and Directed and choreographed by Strictly CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD, Set and Costume MATTHEW WRIGHT (based on TheTouchtone Motion Picture “Sister Act”)

Review Sister Act, WMC by Eloise Stingemore

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
The smash hit musical production returned to the Centre with director and choreograph Craig Revel Horwood from Strictly Come Dancing at the helm. Who gave this tried and tested production that has gone through various permutations since the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film a real musical heart.
Sister Act tells the hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier, a sassy nightclub singer in 1977/78 in need of witness protection after witnessing a murder. Deloris is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent! Forced to wear a habit, and eat nothing but mutton, Deloris clashes with Mother Superior and begins to lead her fellow sisters astray, until she finds her calling in teaching them to sing.
Alexandra Burke really shines in the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier, each witty line or facial expression is delivered to perfection. However, it is when she opens her mouth to sing, we’re reminded of why audiences voted for her in there millions during 2008 X Factor. Burke’s voice never falters; her dancing is wonderfully expressive and comedic, it is her ability to make her audience laugh while ensuring their feet never stop tapping, makes her truly sensational as Deloris.
This show contains a fabulous group of musicians, who, instead of playing in the orchestra pit, take the role of various characters such as the trumpet playing Mother Superior played by Karen Mann. Who along with Burke are truly at the heart of this warm, funny and entertaining production but they are by no means the only ones. The whole cast displays a great deal of energy and enthusiasm and present as though they are loving life when signing Alan Menken original musical numbers including ‘Raise Your Voice,’ ‘Take Me to Heaven,’  and the show-stopping finale ‘Spread the Love Around.’
 From the first moment to the big finale, the show is wonderful. A perfect lead in Burke, a great cast as well as a superb script and songs have been combined perfectly by the director into perhaps the best show to grace the stage of the Centre in a long time.