Saturday 23 March 2024

Sister Act - Review

Dominion Theatre, London


Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner
Additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane
Directed by Bill Buckhurst

Lizzie Bea, Beverley Knight and company

Sister Act is everything that is great about musical theatre. The star studded cast lead the audience through the tale of Deloris (Beverley Knight), an aspiring musician who after stumbling across a gangland murder is forced to go into witness protection in a convent, all under the watchful and disapproving eye of the Mother Superior (Ruth Jones). Deloris delights as she revamps the downtrodden convent’s choir into a band of all-singing all-dancing nuns with a disco edge. 

Knight gives an utterly standout performance, her breathtaking vocals leaving the audience wanting more after every song. Her take on of Deloris is wonderfully exaggerated yet still sympathetic as the audience follow her character's journey from disco diva to a true convent sister. 

The outrageous Deloris plays excellently opposite Ruth Jones’ far more muted and restrained Mother Superior. The casting decision for Ruth Jones in this role seems to have been made more for her ‘star’ status rather than musical theatre acumen, as Jones’ vocals don’t hold weight alongside her cast members. However, what Jones lacks in singing talent she makes up for in comedic contributions to the show. Despite the supposed ‘dull’ persona of the Mother Superior, Jones brings a light cheekiness to the role with her own signature Welsh twist. It is a delight as Jones opens the show with her classic greeting of ‘alright’ and wearing Welsh dragon socks, making the role feel truly her own. 

Other notable performances come from Clive Rowe in the role of Steady Eddie and Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert who both very much hold their own as solo vocalists, as well as eliciting continuous laugh out loud moments. 

Morgan Large’s set is simple yet effective with mostly static set pieces and props, allowing the cast to really take the foreground without distraction. The stage seamlessly transitions back and forth from an austere church setting to colours and lights of the disco age with at least one mirror ball on stage at any given moment. Costuming, also by Large, is delightful with the perfect amount of sequins that you would want from a big hit West End musical (by the finale each cast member is decked from head to toe in sparkles).

The entire show is entirely charming and genuinely hilarious with the cast’s joyful performances providing such an infectiously bright atmosphere that it would be a shock if anyone left that theatre without beaming from ear to ear. Sister Act really will take you to heaven and make you want to raise your voice!

Runs until 31st August
Photo credit: Johan Persson
Reviewed by Dina Gitlin-Leigh

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