Monday, 30 January 2017

“Sister Act”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Deloris Van Cartier, crowned 'Lady Fabulous' of 1978, and girlfriend of gangster, Curtis Shank. sees Shank (Aaron Lee Lambert) shoot someone who they believe has "squealed" about them to the cops. Horrified, Deloris runs away and Shank orders his men to get her and bring her back. Deloris runs to a police station and tells the desk chief about what happened.
The two recognise each other as old friends from school with Deloris calling him "Sweaty Eddie". Eddie (Joe Vetch) decides that Deloris needs to go into the witness protection program and sends her to the place he believes Shank will never find her - a convent called The Holy Order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith. Sassy and streetwise Deloris changes the nun's lives, and they too have an affect on Deloris.
That's where it all starts.....
Now this is where the review gets subjective.
Alexandra Burke has hurt her back so is unable to perform so her understudy, Joanna Francis stepped in. Already this could put Joanna a little on edge as everybody has come to see Alexandra, but there's no taking it away from Joanna that girl has some pipes on her and can belt out a tune or two,and there are some belting tunes in this show.
Personally I didn't feel Joanna had enough Deloris attitude to clinch the deal but she did what she had to do and turned in a solid, but safe performance, and let's face it, she saved the show in Alexandra's absence.
One actor who I absolutely loved was Karen Mann as the Mother Superior. her voice reminiscent of the late Elaine Stritch for it's theatricality and the section where she was supposed to be drunk was wonderfully played. You could tell the full journey her character travelled and I loved the character and the way that Karen played her. I don't remember the character hitting the bottle before so it was a nice touch added by director, and choreographer, Craig Revel-Horwood,
The nuns were all well characterised, especially Sisters Mary Lazarus (Liz Kitchen), Mary Robert (Sarah Goggin) and Mary Theresa (Allison Harding).
Curtis' henchmen Pablo (Ricky Rojas), Joey (Samuel Morgan-Grahame) and T.J. (Sandy Geigelis) were wonderfully simple-minded, which is how the henchmen are supposed to be played. What slightly marred their big piece in the musical, where they sing "Lady In The Long Black Dress" was that a brilliant, funny song was, for me, ruined by making it overtly sexual and dirty, which it's really not supposed to be. Sorry but I've seen funnier and less smutty versions which I've enjoyed better.
Aaron Lee-Lambert, I must admit though did have a really nice soul voice in the style of Teddy Pendergrass as he sang "When I Find My Baby"
A few things didn't work for me in this production, including the actors playing instruments on stage. Now I am all for actors playing instruments on stage when there is a need for it,i.e. the character needs to play an instrument in his role. What made this musical look wrong was seeing nuns with trumpets, saxophones and trombones and Sweaty Eddie patrolling the streets with a guitar strapped to his back, just waiting to break into song. How many gangsters and henchmen do you see carrying guitars anyway?. Are they going to snuff some dirty rotten squealer out with an A Flat chord? Sorry this didn't work for me!
The scene where Sweaty Eddie sings "I Could Be That Guy" also looked a little laboured with the switch from policeman to disco star and back to policeman. Again I've seen it done better. Great song though!
But it's not all bad. the music was great, the songs were great, the staging was great, the lighting and sets were great, the glitter cannon at the end was great, the enthusiasm was great, but the whole show could have been better than great. Maybe Craig Revel-Horwood wanted to change it up a bit and make it fresher and sexier, and let's face it, this musical now can be a bit dated, albeit great fun, and I applaud Revel-Horwood for taking a chance. It just didn't work for me. It obviously worked for several of the audience who gave the cast a standing ovation at the end.
As I said at the start, this reviewing lark is very subjective and comparing one production to another is inevitable..
"Sister Act" is on at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 11 February 2017.

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