THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH UNTIL 10 DECEMBER 2022
BOX OFFICE 01752 267222
RUNNING TIME – 2 HOURS 45 MINUTES (INCLUDING ONE INTERVAL)
5 DECEMBER 2022
The phenomenal success of the 1992 film Sister Act spawned a swift sequel (and another is on the way, or so I read recently) and it was only a matter of time before a stage musical would emerge – it’s the thing to do! This was realised in 2006 with the first UK production appearing in 2009.
The plot involving a goodtime girl/cabaret singer witnessing a murder carried out by her gangland boyfriend, her seclusion in a convent as a safety precaution by the police, the obvious clash of cultures and the joy of singing leading to salvation, is fun. The juxtaposition of murder and high camp comedy is a tad grating, but such is the (almost) pantomime-style adopted in this production that you can just about deal with it. Why do we find nuns so funny?
The stage show sticks reasonably close to the film, though all the music has changed; gone are renditions of old favourites ‘My Guy’ (‘My God’) and ‘I Will Follow Him’ and in comes the music and lyrics of Alan Menken (famed for his Disney songs and it’s difficult not to hear them in some of the numbers) and Glenn Slater. Sadly the music just doesn’t cut the mustard; ok on the night, but incredibly unmemorable.
As mentioned, it has obviously been the aim to push the boundaries performance-wise and the word subtle doesn’t really appear in any character depiction; mugging and hamming it up comes to mind rather. That’s not to say that doesn’t elicit some funny moments, but it gradually wears a little thin. That said, the performances throughout are well done in the spirit of the production.
The ever-changing set is well designed by Morgan Large and Tim Mitchell has a field day with the lighting. With a band, under Neil Macdonald, playing many of the numbers at full tilt it was pretty tough on the ears some of the time and attempts to hear the lyrics were abandoned.
Sandra Marvin has a powerhouse voice and is ideal as Deloris Van Cartier with plenty of sass and attitude. Lori Haley Fox provides the Mother Superior with an edge; possibly the character with the biggest arc to travel through the show and she is very impressive. Of the nuns, Lizzie Bea is a suitable innocent Mary Robert and Anne Smith a wonderfully gruff Mary Lazarus. The highly talented Graham MacDuff makes everything of cop Eddie Souther – his song/transformation number is the highlight of the show. A word too for the trio of Tom Hopcroft, Bradley Judge and Damian Buhagiar as the bad boy posse – they have been asked to overplay their roles and they do it magnificently throughout and provide great entertainment in all they do.
Choreography from Alistair David is fun throughout – being set in the 1970s gives plenty of licence and getting nuns to boogie is guaranteed to bring a smile to the face.
The show is too long – probably 20-30 minutes too long. The first half contains 90% of the plot and so, after the interval, the second act is just packed with songs to pad out time until the final 10% of the plot can be presented.
This is a fun show which is aiming at pleasing audiences and it generally does that. It is too superficial and overtly comic-book to instil any real connections with the characters, but then maybe that isn’t the point – disco-dancing nuns can camp choirboys is all you need to keep people entertained.
CAST & CREATIVES
DELORIS VAN CARTIER – SANDRA MARVIN
MOTHER SUPERIOR – LORI HALEY FOX
SISTER MARY ROBERT – LIZZIE BEA
CURTIS JACKSON – JEREMY SECOMB
EDDIE SOUTHER – GRAHAM MACDUFF
MONSIGNOR O’HARA – RHYS OWEN
SISTER MARY PATRICK – CATHERINE MILLSOM
SISTER MARY LAZARUS – ANNE SMITH
SISTER MATY THERESA – TRICIA DEIGHTON
PABLO – DAMIAN BUHAGIAR
JOEY – TOM HOPCROFT
TJ – BRADLEY JUDGE
CLEMONT – CASTELL PARKER
TINA – TANYA EDWARDS
MICHELLE – GABRIELLE DAVINA SMITH
EMSEMBLE – EMMA RALSTON, JERMAINE WOODS, MICHAEL WOOD
MUSIC – ALAN MENKEN
LYRICS – GLENN SLATER
BOOK – CHERI STEINKELLNER
DIRECTOR – BILL BUCKHURST
CHOREOGRAPHER – ALISTAIR DAVID
SET & COSTUME DESIGN – MORGAN LARGE
LIGHTING DESIGN – TIM MITCHELL
SOUND DESIGN – TOM MARSHALL
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – NEIL MACDONALD
PHOTO IMAGE – MANUEL HARLAN