Now set in the present day, with a stunning cast that includes TV legend Lesley Joseph, West End sensation Lizzie Bea, and Emmerdale and Waitress star Sandra Marvin, this sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music tells the hilarious story of the disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder.
Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.
Featuring original music by Tony® and 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Disney’s Aladdin, Enchanted) and songs inspired by Motown, soul and disco, this joyous and hilarious musical is one nostalgia-filled trip you will never forget.
Sister Act Tickets
Our review on Sister Act
Sister Act - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Monday 4th July 2022 by Karen Ryder
If we ever needed a sign that on the 6th day God created Manchester, then here it is!
The Palace Theatre Manchester is the only venue on the Sister Act tour to see the addition of Jennifer Saunders and Keala Settle to an already angelic cast! Hallelu and glory be to the musical theatre Gods! Having seen Sister Act in London many years ago at The Palladium, I still remember how it generously fed my soul with a blissful euphoria and left me smiling for days. The music is joyous, the harmonies heavenly, and the story triumphant. Add to that a cast that can rock the rafters and Sister Act is heaven sent!
Fabulous nightclub singer Deloris has a not so fabulous boyfriend, and when this leads to her witnessing a murder, the safest option is for her to go into police protection and take on a new identity. So where is safer to hide out than in a convent right? As Deloris takes on a new persona as Sister Mary Clarence, her daily life becomes less about hiding out and more about helping the convents failing choir. She takes the nuns into her heart and fills theirs with a love of music and a newfound self-belief. As we get to know these beautiful characters souls, a paradox of evil is closing in on the purity of the convent as Curtis and his gang uncover Deloris’ hiding place. But with a dream come true opportunity to perform for The Pope at risk, Deloris refuses to hide away, leaving the nuns to defend their sister in ways they never knew possible!
Sister Act is hilarious! From the one liners, the lyrics, the actors movements and facial expressions – it has comedy running through each and every one of its rosary beads. The audience are laughing from the get-go when the nuns appear on stage, singing so out of tune with each other, that your funny bone is immediately tickled, and it doesn’t ever get a rest. A blue fur coat is presented, followed by the line – “You killed a smurf!” Mother Superior is told, “You took a vow of charity.” She replies deadpan, “I give it back!” Song lyrics see our disco dancing nuns singing about shaking their booties, a love song from gangster Curtis proposes disembowelling your girlfriend, whilst his gang dance along to the death threats with the perfectly cheesy 1970’s boy band groove moves. This number is superbly performed by Jeremy Secomb, Bradley Judge, Damian Buhagiar, and Tom Hopcroft. These kinds of juxtapositions can be found throughout and are brilliantly clever and never fail to have the audience in stitches. I can guarantee you will laugh from beginning to end and find your jaw is genuinely aching from smiling and laughing so much. Nightclub singers, nuns, police, gangsters and drag queens fill the stage with glitz, glamour, and godliness, making Sister Act a hard Act to follow.
The set is magnificent in its apparent simplicity, but this eloquence has clearly been well thought out. It doesn’t over complicate but enhances and completely encompasses every scene, whether it be the sanctity of the Church, a shimmering disco ball nightclub, a police station, or an apartment with many secret hiding places for nuns who you can’t shake from your mind. It switches to each location with a slick speed and ease, enhancing everything and everyone on stage. Morgan Large not only designed an engaging set but brilliant costumes, particularly for the finale, which will take you breath away.
Throughout the show I kept thinking “Ooh – this is my favourite song……no…..this is my favourite song!” There are just so many to chose from that elevate your endorphins that it’s a little bit like being a kid in a sweet shop. Do I pick the grand choral opener Take Me To Heaven, the fierce and fabulous, Fabulous Baby, the hilarious How I Got The Calling, or the sensational Raise Your Voice? Many audience members were wise enough to go and grab the CD at the interval so they can listen again and again to help them decide. The music is brand new and is not the music you will have heard in the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, but I beg of you, don’t let this put you off or feel disappointed because I promise you will not feel that way by the end. You’re more likely to feel disappointed that it’s taken you till now to discover such a wonderful new score!
Multiple award winner Jennifer Saunders plays Mother Superior. Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, French & Saunders, Shrek & BAFTA Fellowship) literally left me crying with laughter. It is the first time I have seen her live, but I swear it was worth the wait. She is pure comedy gold and it is clear why she is a national treasure. From the moment she came on stage, the whooping and cheering told of the respect and love the audience had for her and not for a nano second did she falter. Every nuance, every breath she takes has purpose. She has truly made this part her own, and her comic timing, ad libs and details make for a comedy masterclass. She shushes herself, it’s funny. She pulls her habit away from her ears, it’s funny. She looks shocked – yes it’s funny. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. From her opening monologue, where she addresses the audience directly, to her musical solos, to her self-deprecation at the end where she claims the other singer is “a little pitchy”, this was a very special performance I shall never forget.
Olivier award nominated Lesley Joseph (Birds Of A Feather, Young Frankenstein, Annie) is possibly the other funniest nun I have ever seen, as Sister Mary Lazarus. Hearing her rap (in Latin!), and watching her street dance dressed as a nun, in a posh voice, has made my life! She is quite capable of stealing this whole show, yet she allows herself to blend into the ensemble of sisters with a humble generosity that makes me love her even more. Her stamina is beyond words, her facial expressions crease you with laughter one moment, then make you want to hug her the next. Joseph is an absolute legend and I can’t believe I got to watch two strong, empowering female comedians in one show!
Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman, Les Mis, & Juliet) is sensational as Sister Mary Patrick. I wasn’t the only one to feel I was in the presence of greatness, and the moment she lets rip with that incredible voice, I wanted to cry happy tears. Her acting was just gorgeous as the excitable Sister Mary Patrick and it became harder and harder to tear your eyes away from her as she embodied the character throughout, meaning that even when she wasn’t singing or speaking, she was still always doing something and so was engaging to watch. The start of act two proved to be a fan girl moment when she walked right past our seats! Eeeekk! I’ve just watched Keala Settle sing live people!!! Sister Act truly is the show that keeps on giving!
Sandra Marvin (Waitress, Emmerdale, City Of Angels) rocks the Palace Theatre to its rafters as Deloris Van Cartier. She has some huge shoes to fill playing the role that Whoopi created, but she not only fills them, she’ll make you go out and buy them in every colour! What an absolute star! Marvin commands the stage with her high energy, her soulful voice, and I think the best compliment I can give and what hopefully sums up the outrageous talent of Marvin is that after her performance, and in no disrespectful terms, you’ll forget all about Whoopi, because it will seem that the part was created entirely for Marvin.
Manchester welcomes back Lizzie Bea (Heathers, Hairspray, Kinky Boots) as Sister Mary Roberts. Boy can this girl sing. Still the best Tracy Turnblad I have ever seen, Bea once again created a moment for herself in her solo The Life I Never Led, wowing Manchester for the second time. I just love her and her magical singing pipes. To carve a standout moment for yourself in such a huge cast is testament to her talent. The audience went wild for her solo, and her comedy moments too and I can’t wait to follow her career.
Olivier Award winning Clive Rowe (Guys & Dolls, Sweet Charity, Carousel) is endearing as Eddie Souther. He starts out as a quiet character, but explodes into this Barry White-esque love god, with his luxurious deep, soulful voice and his triple costume reveal that any drag queen would be proud of. You find yourself routing for him throughout and he has a brilliant solo I Could Be That Guy, where he certainly knows how to win over a crowd. Graham Macduff (Singing In The Rain, Anything Goes, Phantom) as Monsignor O’ Hara goes from serious to silly with great comedic progression, and other cast members such as Tricia Deighton and Lori Haley Fox create the brilliance of ensemble that makes the show so illuminating.
Sister Act is a celebration of the joy that music brings! Whether you have any form of faith or not, this music by Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, Little Shop Of Horrors) and fantastic lyrics by Glenn Slater, will make your soul soar with serotonin, and dopamine will disco through your entire body. A celestial blend of gospel, soul, and disco, I would seriously get yourself to the doctors if your spirits aren’t raised by this glorious music. There is just something inexplicably and inherently funny about disco dancing nuns. Maybe it’s the joy of the unexpected, maybe it’s the habits highlighting their faces for comedic magnificence, or maybe it’s just that we are all a little weird, but tonight, Manchester certainly loved a divine disco diva named Deloris. Leave your confessions at the door, worship at the Palace Theatre, and bask in the higher power that is Sister Act!
WE SCORE SISTER ACT – 10/10
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