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  • Chris O'Rourke

Sister Act

Sister Act. Image uncredited.


How do you solve a problem like Delores? A big dream, big voiced wannabe singer who’s just witnessed a murder. Disguised as a nun she is sequestered away to a convent as part of a witness protection program. The worldly Delores a disruptive influence on the resident sisters, all oblivious to her secret. Whipping the ten strong church choir into shape, she turns them into national celebrities. Leaving Mother Superior at her wits end. Proving be careful what you pray for, you just might get it. In Sister Act, A Divine Musical Comedy, based on the Whoopee Goldberg 1992 movie of the same name, a nun on the run serves up tonnes of fun, but it’s the songs and singing that prove heavenly.

Sister Act. Image Mark Senior

Set in the late Seventies and heavily referencing The Sound of Music at times, Sister Act is not the equivalent of musical fine dining. Clunkily finding its feet, with Bill Buckhurst’s direction doing just enough, as does Alastair David's choreography, and with Morgan Large’s set looking distractingly like the portal in Stargate SG1, spectacle leaves a little to be desired. Book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane a bare bag of narrative bolts you don’t want to think too much about. Narratively and visually it just about holds together. But Sister Act was never intended as musical fine dining. Rather it’s the musical theatre equivalent of street food. Relying less on presentation and more on strong, tasty flavours, Sister Act’s songs and singing serve up some sumptuous treats.

Sister Act. Image Mark Senior

While it's the energised nuns who run the show, aided by a terrific Ruth Jones as Mother Superior and an excellent Landi Oshinowo as streetwise, disco diva Delores, the men also have their moments. A scene stealing Alfie Parker as Steady Eddie Souther, the cop responsible for protecting Delores, near brings the house down with I Could Be That Guy, channelling Village People, disco balls, and more glitz and glamour than any one person should be allowed. If its gangsters look like pantomime clowns, making Ron Burgundy and his crew look like geniuses, leader Curtis Jackson (Ian Gareth-Jones), along with henchmen TJ (Elliot Gooch), Joey (Callum Martin) and Paolo (Michalis Antoniou) turn on the style like an overdose of cheap cologne. Channelling heavy Seventies vibes, including referencing The Floaters, they set out to prove why no woman can resist them, and fail to make their case. If some men struggle in the upper register, it’s more than compensated for by its ten strong women's choir showing hugely impressive range. Most notably the exquisite Eloise Runnette making her professional debut as postulate Sister Mary Robert. Runnette’s sensational voice, especially her show stopping rendition of The Life I Never Led, living proof of the existence of angels.

Sister Act. Image Mark Senior

It’ll come as no surprise that all’s well that ends well, with Jones and Oshinowo shining during the great, big, glittery kitsch finish. Wherein lies the secret of Sister Act; it throws all its eggs into its singing and song basket. Staging might look average and story patched together, but songs and singing are simply sensational. Given they’re built from music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, you shouldn’t be too surprised. Let your heart and soul go with it, and you will find Sister Act joyously uplifting. Go, be part of this terrific Sister Act. It does the soul a power of good.

Sister Act, A Divine Musical Comedy presented by Jamie Wilson, Kevin McCollum, Gavin Karin, Robbie Wilson and Curve, runs at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until February 24.

For more information visit Bord Gáis Energy Theatre


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