I dare you to watch Sister Act without a smile on your face, it’s impossible!

© Manuel Harlan

This stage production is based on the hit 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg. The show first opened in London in 2009 at the Palladium, with Goldberg producing. The current production was originally due to play in 2020, but I think we all know what then occurred, which led to the show being delayed twice. Goldberg was set to star as Deloris in this production, but due to the delays that role was instead given to the glorious West End superstar, Beverley Knight, who is ‘Fabulous, Baby!’

The show’s score is by the legendary Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater. Although the score of Sister Act is great, it is not his best work – but with Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Aladdin on your CV you’ve set the bar rather high for yourself.

The staging of this production by Morgan Large is simply stunning, and complimented beautifully by Tim Mitchell’s lighting design. Staged in a semi-circle shape, Large has managed to reduce the size of the performing space, which means that the more intimate moments within the show feel exactly that. The audience is transported to church, the 9 Circles bar, the police station and more with ease. Transitions were smooth and flowed very well. The church’s staging is my favourite, with stained glass window lighting which sets the scene beautifully. There are multiple disco balls surrounding the stage which are fun, and make the audience feel as though they are part of the party.

Large also designed the costumes, the highlight of which are the multicoloured sparkly habits at the end of the show, that are donned by all of the nuns. This makes the finale that much more joyous. You can really tell that no expense has been spared on this production.

Beverley Knight is perfectly cast in the role of Deloris Van Cartier, some may have been disappointed by Goldberg pulling out of this run, but Knight’s voice means no one could be more perfect for this role. Although, Goldberg would have be more suited to the comedy aspect of the role – Knight’s soulful belts had me awestruck and she also proved herself as a comedic actress, delivering lines well and causing a cascade of chuckles throughout the crowd.

Competing with Knight as the star of the show is Lizzie Bea, who proves a vocal powerhouse. I had to pick my jaw up from the floor after her sensational performance of ‘The Life I Never Led.’

We all trust Jennifer Saunders in a comedic role, and here she proves herself yet again. Her timing and physical comedy are impeccable – however her singing is overshadowed by the talent of her fellow cast mates. Knight, Bea and Keala Settle all have incredibly powerful voices which means we lose Saunders in her musical numbers slightly, and she seemed to have a fair few songs too!

I also felt that Settle was underused, I wanted to see her so much more and I wanted more belts. Settle and Bea proved a great comedic duo in the scenes at the 9th Circle Bar, and Settle had me laughing throughout the show. In moments with all the nuns on stage dancing and singing, Settle was who my eyes were drawn too.

Clive Rowe is hilarious in the role of Eddie Souther, or ‘Steady Eddie’ – I’ve not seen Rowe on stage before and growing up with him on Tracy Beaker as Duke, his vocals simultaneously shocked me and blew me away.

‘Raise Your Voice’ is the highlight of the night, with all of the nuns on stage discovering their voices for the first time. This production wins when all of the nuns sing together with Knight leading, the amount of vocal talent upon stage is then apparent and you do not want to miss a second of it.

The book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner is the star of this show, with hilarious lines throughout the show. We all know the plot from the film, but somehow the writing of this show is funnier. There’s also some slapstick incorporated, particularly in the fight scene at the end between the nuns, Curtis and his cronies which works extremely well. It suits the show, is done tastefully (it’s the right dose of cheesy) and provides some comic relief after emotional performances from Knight and Bea.

Sister Act is not just the show of the summer, but of the year so far. It’s fun, joyful, and I’ve never wanted to go to church so badly in my life. With an all-star mega talented cast, this is a show that cannot be missed. So book a ticket now, and let Knight’s voice take you to heaven.

You’ve got until the 28th of August to catch the show in London and then it heads on a UK tour!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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