Review: ‘Sister Act’ @ The Mayflower Theatre


Filled with wit, gospel, and a whole lot of charm; Sister Act may not compare to the film it's based on, but that doesn't mean it's less of a show because of it.

There’s a whole lot of nostalgia and love held loftily above 1992’s Sister Act. As one of the most commercially successful comedy films of the 90s, Sister Act (1992) and its amazing cast of Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, Harvey Keitel, and Kathy Najimy (to name a few), is unrivaled as a childhood classic (even if admittedly, a fair few years before my time). So, sitting down to watch the stage adaptation of the film, I wasn’t quite sure if it could hold a candle to such a roaring flame. Oh Lord, was I wrong.

Credit: Manuel Harlan via. The Mayflower

Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy, largely keeps the story intact from the 1992 film. You follow Deloris Van Cartier (Sandra Marvin), an upcoming singer in Philadelphia, who finds herself witness to a murder and in dire need of protection. Entrusted to the nuns of a convent named Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows, Deloris soon butts heads with the Mother Superior (Lesley Joseph) and is forced with turning this rag-nag crew of singing nuns into a choir fit for the angels. It’s a show filled with laughter, soul, and a whole lot of innuendo (if it’s really as covert as that?) that had me wondering what the child sitting in front of me thought was going on. It’s a blast, a gospel for the ages, and the sheer talent on display is simply phenomenal.

As expected, Sandra Marvin is divine as Deloris, packing a punch in her vocals to bring the roof down, but never shining quite so brightly as when singing the slower more heartfelt songs. Lesley Joseph is equally brilliant, garnering laughs and moments of awe when singing through many musical moments, and even hitting those extremely low notes she might not have expected (you did great Lesley). Other standouts include Clive Rowe’s Eddie Souther, who is gifted with Sister Acts’ best musical moment in the song ‘I Could Be That Guy’; Lizzie Bea’s Sister Mary Robert who easily gifted us the most mesmerising power notes of the show; and Anne Smith’s Sister Mary Lazarus whose low notes and begrudging hand over of the nun’s choir is filled with a certain perfection that often made my eyes scan the stage to see what next she had in store for us. Of course, these are only a few of the stunning cast, but in a show filled with saints and sinners, I had to narrow the list down to these brilliant few.

Credit: Manuel Harlan via. The Mayflower

With that said, I was thankful so many of the cast could command a presence on stage because the staging itself relied on big personalities to light it up (Castell Parker’s ensemble of characters stand out in that respect). Torn between appreciating a character-focused uncluttered design, to wishing for a little bit more of the splendour that Sister Act promises, it only narrowly works because of the talent of the show’s cast. Perhaps I would have been even more forgiving if most musical numbers amounted to a little bit more than walking from side to side while singing (you only need to watch the closing number of ‘Spread the Love Around’ to know what more I wanted), but it’s remarkable how much I found myself forgiving of these grievances because there’s a certain joy that’s hard not to get swept up into. Plus, there’s certainly a goofiness that haunts Curtis Jackson’s (Mark Goldthorp) crew, which helps imbue the show with feelings of comedy and chaos (‘When I Find My Baby’ a delightful detour into what a musical number about murder would be about), that help constantly elevate and set new highs.

So, as the curtain closed on a show that well earned its standing ovation, all I can say is that Sister Act is undoubtedly a success to enamour most viewers. Filled with musical standouts, a great cast, and a lick of holy-humour that would be blasphemous if it wasn’t so good; Sister Act, is one of the most enjoyable shows touring right now and I can’t recommend it enough.


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Previous News Editor (20-21), previous Editor-In-Chief (21-22), and now the Deputy Editor & Culture PR duo extravaganze, I'm just someone trying to make their way through the world of journalism... (trying being the keyword here).

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