If you’re seeking a heartwarming entry into the Christmas spirit, a visit to the Wales Millennium Centre this week to experience “Sister Act” is the blessing you’ve been waiting for.
The crowd-pleasing musical is back for another run, and despite nearly a year passing since it graced the Welsh capital, the venue was packed to the church rafters. This reaffirms that people simply can’t get enough of Alan Menken’s catchy musical score and the feel-good comedy romp that brings a Christmas-at-the-church, slightly pantomime vibe, without taking itself too seriously.
For those unfamiliar with the film or the show, the story draws inspiration from the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. It revolves around the vibrant world of Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva compelled to seek refuge in a convent after witnessing her married mobster boyfriend commit murder. In need of urgent protection, Deloris turns to the police, and Police Chief Eddie Souther (Alfie Parker) devises a plan to hide her at Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow church, overseen by the Mother Superior, played by Lesley Joseph of “Birds of a Feather” fame.
While the stage design may not be a visual feast, the seamless blending of scenes and the vibrant atmosphere complement the storyline exceptionally well. This is a production that places the spotlight firmly on the fantastic cast and their ability to make the audience smile, laugh, and appreciate the vocal talent within their ranks. Notably, the use of lighting and set pieces stands out, enhancing the mood and transporting the audience from the bustling streets of Philadelphia to the serene confines of the convent, later transformed into a glittering disco church.
“Sister Act” proves to be a divine night of musical theatre. Despite plot holes and alterations to fit the current musical arrangement, you can dive straight into the show without prior exposure to past productions or the film and leave emotionally fulfilled. The show seamlessly transitions between campy moments and classic 80s good vs. evil plots, creating a diverse experience that encapsulates everything needed for a heavenly night out.
Lesley Joseph , known from tv show “Birds of a Feather,” shines as Mother Superior, exuding a Maggie Smith flavour with a sprinkle of Dorien Green’s dry comedy. Her solo performance, “I Haven’t Got a Prayer,” is honest and heartfelt, showcasing her singing prowess.
Leading lady Landi Oshinowo, portraying Disco diva Deloris, delivers a flawless performance. Her smooth-as-silk voice effortlessly hits power notes, and her character’s development from a sassy mistress dreaming of stardom to a fully involved convent member is a captivating journey reminiscent of the charm in the original film.
The musical excels in portraying the bond between Deloris and Sister Mary Robert, in this instance, surpassing the film in believability. Lizzie Bea stands out vocally, infusing her role with passion and charm, creating a likeable character that undergoes a joyous transformation into a powerhouse, no-nonsense nun.
Standout performance of the night comes from Alfie Parker as place chief, Steady Eddie Souther. His solo at the police station is a show-stealer, showcasing his exceptional ability to move, dance, and sing like a seasoned professional – that triple costume change was something else
I was under no illusion that i was going to enjoy this show, even your non-theatre friends will enjoy this one. “Sister Act” the Musical is a feel-good journey with great songs, comedy madness, offering an uplifting and entertaining night out that will leave you brimming with joy. If you’re in the mood for Christmas fun with a churchy twist and a dash of disco, you’ll be getting your money’s worth with Sister Act!
Sister Act is at the Wales Millennium centre all week until 18th November
Run for approximately 2 hours 20 mins (including a 20 minute interval).