MUSICALS rarely come bigger and more spectacular than 'Sister Act'. Following a very successful run in the West End, Broadway and UK tour, this wonderfully funny show is now being performed up and down the country by amateur companies.
The musical is based on the 1992 film of the same name, and follows the tale of outrageous nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier (memorably played by Whoopi Goldberg), who has to hide out in a hard-up convent after seeing her mobster boyfriend commit murder. During her stay at the convent Deloris transforms the tone-deaf choir into a Vegas style floor show act, and in the meantime saves the convent.
The clever stroke that the musical version pulls is that they set the story in the 70's, therefore giving composer Alan Menken (best known for his work with Disney) , a chance to pen belting disco and soul numbers, which make up for the mediocre book.
Full marks go here to BBLOC for being brave enough to tackle such a new musical comedy. Their production is big and beautifully costumed, with a belting big band (helmed by Ian Peters) which matched that of the West End production. Pace took a while to get going, as the set changes and flow of the show began a bit laboured, and sound was never really rectified through the evening as we were still struggling to hear Glenn Slater's witty lyrics - especially during the brilliant 'Sunday Morning Fever' number.
The sisters here were the real act, with every of the big 'nun' numbers delivering at every level: they were well drilled, sang brilliantly, and had great energy, despite the soaring outside temperatures. The 'brothers' also did a good job, with Tom Robinson, Paul Matthews and Neil Tallant delivering their second half 'Lady In The Long Black Dress' number with gusto and showbiz.
I'm not sure about some of the casting, and never quite got over the fact that there wasn't a black actress playing the iconic leading role; however, Sally Wheeler sang and acted diva enough to pull the story off. Olivia Ling 'raised the roof' during her beautifully sung 'Life I Never Led'. Nikki Taylor gave a comic portrayal of the grumpy Sister Mary Lazarus; again it was just a shame that so many of her great lines were left unheard.
As the show reaches its sequinned finale, it's hard not to fall in love with this show. Its feelgood factor is high, and as the 'Spread The Love Around' number reached its climax, there weren't many faces in the audience that didn't have a smile, and we left the theatre feeling like we had had a great night out. Surely that's what musical comedy is all about?