Thursday, 22 September 2016

Sister Act - The Grand Theatre Leeds - 22nd August 2016 (Reviewed on behalf of The Reviews Hub)

This was originally reviewed for The Reviews Hub and the link can be found here.
Photo Credit: Tristram Kenton (Accessed from

Strictly Come Dancing’s Craig Revel Horwood brings his new production of Sister Act on an extensive UK tour, including its stop in Leeds.   The musical is based on the smash hit movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith.
Many know the story of Deloris Van Cartier (Alexandra Burke) who longs to make her break as a disco diva, but this takes an unexpected turn when she witnesses a murder involving her boyfriend, Curtis (Aaron Lee Lambert).  She ends up in protective custody and the last place where she is likely to be found – a convent. Under the strict eye of the pious but funny Mother Superior (Karen Mann), she disguises herself as a nun. Deloris bonds with fellow nuns after finding her own voice and encourages them to open up their souls through theirs; however the Mother Superior doesn’t take kindly to her modern and worldly ways.
Matthew Wright’s set is stunning and Richard G Jones’ lighting is highly creative. With an on-stage orchestra and most of the cast doubling up as musicians; the audience enjoys and rejoices in a series of musical numbers, based on the original music courtesy of the award-winning Alan Menken, including Raise Your VoiceTake Me to HeavenSister Act and the catchy and show-stopping finale, Spread the Love Around.  The glitter ball effect swirling around the stage and auditorium evokes the discotheque, Motown, and soul, with its Philly hits in the 1970s.
The 1960s and 1970s went through a big social change which changed attitudes in general, but particularly religion.  However, Deloris receives opportunities for deep reflection and contemplation which she may not have got outside the convent. Sister Act is a musical comedy where a clash of traditional and modern views is shared throughout, particularly between Deloris and the Mother Superior in Here Within These Walls.
Burke excels as diva Deloris, her performance selling the character perfectly through narrative and song.  The dancing and Revel Horwood’s choreography are impressive, especially as seen in the pulsating energetic collective musical hits especially in Take Me to Heaven reprisal at end of the first act.  Another mention is Mann’s excellent portrayal of Mother Superior, whose combined piousness and dark humour goes down as a treat.  All members of the cast engage well with one another, and most importantly with the audience.
Sister Act celebrates friendship, sisterhood, love and music, guaranteeing a thoroughly enjoyable evening out.

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