Friday, 28 December 2012

Sister Act the Musical UK Tour: Theatre Review


Sister Act the Musical first premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in California in late 2006 and moved to the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia in early 2007. The production was labelled as Broadway success from this first production. It transferred to the West End in mid 2009 and closed in October 2010 and was replaced by The Wizard of Oz, the Broadway production opened in April 2011 and closed in late August 2012.Other productions are planned for Stuttgart, The Netherlands, Paris, Australia, Mexico, Spain and many more.
The first UK Tour of the show opened at the Manchester Opera House in September 2011 and tours until October 2012. The story follows Deloris Van Carter, she auditions for a nightclub when she witnesses a murder and has to be put away in hiding. She gets put in a Nunnery where she is appointed the leader of the choir, this is something she begins to feel passionate about and she grows closer to her fellow Sisters. Based on the 1992 film, which itself just screams “Make me into a musical!!!” The show undertook a lot of changes when it moved to Broadway and these are included in this touring production, the show felt and looked like a touring production however this didn’t take away from the enjoyment and quality of the piece.

I worry with touring shows that they feel cheap, and even though there were obvious cut backs in this show (these were needed to be able to go from theatre to theatre, obviously!) it was far from some of the other productions I’ve seen on tour. The set, for a touring production, was of a good standard. Klara Zieglerova’s design was beautifully highlighted by Natasha Katz’s lighting design who clearly separated each location and the entire audience did not feel like we were in Woking anymore.
Lez Brotherston did a great job on the costumes, to design a whole show which consists of mainly Nuns must have been horrendous to try and think of imaginative ways to make them interesting but she was clearly the right person for the job, my favourite costumes being the sparkly Nun’s outfits!
Alan Menken is an absolute genius, so when you hear that named matched up with Glenn Slater you just know it’s going to be a musical master piece. A match made in heaven!
Cynthia Erivo plays Deloris Van Carter, she couldn’t have been further away from Whoopi Goldberg’s performance in the film however this is by no means a bad thing, her Deloris is completely fabulous in every way and her performance shows essence of the original Diva’s of music like Whitney Houston, her stage presence is breath taking. Denise Black plays a very traditional Mother Superior who wants to keep her convent the way she is used to, her journey is one of the touching things about this show and she plays it superbly. Michael Strake is a pleasant addition to the cast, however without the rest of the cast the show would be nothing like it was!
Julie Atherton shone in her role as Sister Mary Robert, a role which easily could have been written for her! Let’s be fair, Julie could have sung the phone book on stage for two hours and she would have gotten a standing ovation, her role was small in comparison to the other characters but she was still astonishing.Eddie was played by Edward Baruwa who again, is someone who the role could have been written for. He captured every moment and emotion within the character stupendously. Gavin Alex, Tyrone Huntley and Daniel Stockton as Pablo, TJ and Joey made a faultless trio, I didn’t understand their point in the musical until they sang Lady in the Long Black Dress, they brought the house down!
Gavin Cornwall played a mean Curtis Jackson, at one point I wanted to kick him so he must have done his job right!A mention for Laurie Scarth must be made, another role which was perfectly cast! The casting (done by David Grindrod Associates) was spot on, not one person was out of place in this production.The ensemble of the show were also a major reason why this show is such a success, without them none of what was achieved in this show would have been made possible!
This production is not to be missed; it will be loved by theatre and non theatre fans. A show that will hopefully be touring for many years to come! It would be a sin not to catch this show (see what I did there...).

Rating: ****

The show Toured the UK and finished in Birmingham on the 20thOctober 2012

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