Sister Act the Musical is simply heavenlyBy Caroline Cook
March 09, 2012
It's been 20 years since Whoopi Goldberg burst into song and danced around San Francisco as Sister Mary Clarence.
The American comedy film was a smash-hit so it's a bit of a puzzle as to why it's taken them so long to turn it into a musical - surely it was a no-brainer that dancing nuns would do well on the stage.
Although it took nearly two decades Whoopi finally saw the light, as it were, and signed up as producer for the musical. And it was well worth the wait.
Having made its UK debut at the London Palladium in 2009 the show has now hit the road and arrived at The Wycombe Swan this week.
For the 10 people in the English-speaking world who haven't seen the film, it follows the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a club singer who witnesses a murder and is hidden in a convent until she is called to the witness stand.
Hiding with a bunch of nuns isn't her ideal safe house but Deloris finds kindred spirits in the convent choir and transforms them into a show-stopping musical act.
As you would expect the film translates effortlessly to the stage with all the dancing nun hilarity you would expect and a good helping of 70s disco to boot.
Although the songs are good, they lack the memorability of superb show stoppers and while I found myself clicking my fingers and shaking my hips on the way out of the theatre I couldn't have told you what song I was dancing to.
Part of me was hoping for a blast of My Guy, or My God as it became in the film, but the producers have chosen to go with an original soundtrack from Alan Menken, which admittedly does work well for the hip-shaking 70s feel.
The disco vibe runs throughout the show from the Saturday Night Fever-esque slickness of bad guy Curtis (Gavin Cornwall), to the Starsky and Hutch style outfits worn by comedy cringe trio Pablo (Gavin Alex), TJ (Tyrone Huntley) and Joey (Daniel Stockton.)
And although the music strays from the film the cast is a mirror image with the hilarious jolly roly-poly nun Sister Mary Patrick (Laurie Scarth) and the sweet nun with the killer-voice Sister Mary Robert (Julie Atherton.)
Of course the star of the show - like Deloris would demand while stomping her thigh-high boots - is the title role, played by the incredible Cynthia Erivo.
RADA-trained Cynthia shines as Deloris and is hilarious and charming in equal measures. And it is when she begins training up the nuns that the show really goes up another gear with brilliant full-cast numbers.
Mother Superior (Denise Black) is a wonderfully formidable antithesis to Deloris' glitter and Monsignor O'Hara (Michael Starke) makes for a cuddly character in between their two extremes.
The show really reaches its heights when the nuns get to their full singing and dancing spectacle and it really only needs two words to describe the pinnacle of the show- glittering habits.
With a great set creating the feel of the abbey and some witty lines alongside the slapstick the show is well put together and a high-energy production which makes for a great night out.
The tagline for Sister Act the musical says it is a 'divine comedy' and you can bet that if the Divine is up there watching he'll be up and dancing by the end of it like the rest of the audience.
- Sister Act The Musical is at The Wycombe Swan until Saturday, March 17. Tickets from £28.50. To book call 01494 512 000 or visit www.wycombeswan.co.uk