Theatre Review: Sister Act @ The Regent

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Photo Mark Senio
Photo Mark Senio

The Regent Theatre continues its excellent autumn season with Sister Act- The Musical. Based on the original film that starred Whoopi Goldberg, this exquisite piece of musical theatre overcomes a rather flimsy plot to deliver entertainment with a huge Capital E. With hardly a spare seat in the house, the huge audience delivered a much-deserved prolonged standing ovation that brought delightful praise from the star of the show.

Deloris Van Cartier (Landi Oshinowo), is a wannabe diva who is relying on her boyfriend – the married gangster Curtis Jackson (Ian Gareth-Jones) – to finance her next steps on the route to stardom. Disappointed by his failure to do so and enraged by a poor choice of Christmas present, Deloris decides to leave but becomes an unwitting witness to a murder committed by her lover.

Our heroine escapes to the police and is put in the care of Eddie Souther – a former school friend. Eddie has had a less than glittering career and is disparagingly known as Steady Eddie but deep inside he has ambitions to break out of his shell.

Souther’s solution to Van Cartier’s predicament is to hide her away in the local convent where she has to pose as a nun. The run-down building that becomes her temporary home is close to collapse and closure and Deloris is reluctantly accepted into the order by the Mother Superior (Lesley Joseph) but is more warmly accepted by Monsignor O’Hara (Philip Arran).

Despite her initial reluctance to joining the convent, Deloris takes pride in transforming the tuneless choir and rapidly becomes a friend to the meek and mild Sister Mary Robert (Lizzie Bea) and her fellow Sisters that include the quirky Lazarus (Jackie Pulford) and Patrick (Isabel Canning).

A success with her fellow sisters but will the wannabe diva earn the approval of the Mother Superior and will she escape her murderous ex?

Bea and Parker both play characters who are totally lacking in confidence but they play their parts with sympathy and their performances are welcomed with endearment by the onlookers. Their solos (I Could Be That Guy and The Life I Never Led respectively) both brought the house down. All the performers had a chance to take centre-stage and showcase their individual talents and all can be proud of their work

However, the drama stands and falls on the performances of the two main characters. Oshinowo out-performs even the wonderful Whoopi (her rendition of Sister Act is as powerful as you could wish for) and Joseph brings all of her experience of stage and screen to a part that allows her to portray her comic timing but also deliver a tune.

With a stage full of energy and movement, a superb musical score that has the audience humming its way into Hanley and some laugh-out-loud moments of humour – the electric razor lives in the memory – Sister Act is a pleasing and heart-warming tale that fills the onlooker with joy.

Is it an Original Sin to love musical theatre? When it is as heavenly as this then the answer has to be no. It certainly will make you take up the habit.

Sister Act continues until September 30th and has a running time of approximately 2 hours 30 minutes. For ticket details contact atgtickets.com/stoke