I shouldn’t have been surprised at how good the score is for Sister Act as it’s from Alan Menken, who has brought us so many of the Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Not to mention a personal favourite – Little Shop of Horrors.
In case you’re unaware the plot concerns wannabe singer Deloris who, after witnessing her mobster (and generally no-good) boyfriend gun down someone is forced to turn to police protection. They in turn decide her safest bet is to disguise herself as a nun in a local convent. Once inside her love of music transforms both the choir of nuns and, more importantly, their lives.
Lesley Joseph stars as the Mother Superior. Her performance manages to combine some classic comedy with genuine emotion. She really is remarkable and completely commands the stage in a very special way. Whilst the score is packed with upbeat numbers, for me she was the highlight with the delightfully tender Here Within These Walls. If you know and love her from Birds of a Feather then you’re in for a treat to see her bringing the magic that makes her a genuine West End star.
Sandra Marvin as Deloris doesn’t let a moment go to waste as the failing and slightly deluded nightlub singer who has convinced herself her life is going to plan. Needless to say from a former Waitress, Hairspray and Chicago star, her vocals are amazing. Her comic timing is also spot on. Most importantly she is convincing in the journey from soul music to spiritual music for the soul, taking her choir of nuns with her.
Clive Rowe is one of our great theatre performers. His turn as the cop who saves Deloris is a delight. He’s got the voice and the moves and, again, brings emotional depth to a role that could easily slip by as a comic aside. He’s also got a special surprise for us in his big number which was great to see. Let’s just say it’s not often the costumes bring on a round of applause in the middle of a number!
Jeremy Secomb is Deloris’ no-good boyfriend in a no-good suit to match. He really comes into his own with the singing, combined with a delightful Jersey Boys pastiche from his henchmen.
This is unashamedly a feel good show with great pace and great tunes. But thanks in part to the lead performances it also has genuine heart and emotion.
Sister Act The Musical is at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford until Saturday 11 February then continues on tour.