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Sister Act

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 23rd Aug 2017 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

Until Sunday 27th August 2017, Blackpool Opera House

The sensational Sister Act has arrived in Blackpool and what an entrance the cast made on opening night, gaining a standing ovation and rapturous applause from a full house of over 2,600 people.

This exciting musical, with its highly-accomplished cast, deserves only the best from a leading lady - and they’ve definitely got that in Alexandra Burke, who brings true star quality to the show.

 

Bursting on to a stage set in 1970s Philadelphia, the wayward Deloris Van Cartier dreams of making it as a famous singer, but discovers that the music world isn't interested, her married lover wants her dead (after she witnessed him commit murder) and she has no one to turn to for help.

Time to change her habits. Literally – for Deloris is placed under witness protection in a convent as Sister Mary Clarence, where she causes havoc amongst the nuns before being put in charge of the choir to keep her out of trouble.

Already a fan of Alexandra Burke since her X-Factor win in 2008, I was expecting her vocals to be amazing. What I didn’t anticipate was how funny she would be. As with all much-loved movies, it’s an enormous feat to step into the shoes of Hollywood greats like Whoopi Goldberg. However, such is Alexandra’s comic timing and stage presence, all thoughts of the film version were forgotten within minutes since she makes this role her own, combining beautiful, rich vocals with an engaging performance that had me rooting for Deloris and her fellow sisters to reunite for a performance in front of the pope.

Every single character portrayal was faultless. From the nuns, whose personalities jumped out from their habits (a special mention to Liz Kitchen as the funky Hip Hop Hippy Sister Mary Lazarus, and Susannah Van Den Berg as the jovial Sister Mary Patrick) to bad boy Curtis, played by Aaron Lee Lambert with a swagger and smooth tones reminiscent of Barry White.

Superbly directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, the nuns’ gospel choir scenes, accompanied by the show's live band, are glorious; and a slow motion fight complete with musical instruments as weapons is hilariously inventive. The costumes and set provide the perfect contrast between changes, switching from a kaleidoscope of 70s colour and kitsch to stark black and white against church panels.

Credible performances from the cast elicit the intended feel-good factor as the moral and material makeovers take place. Joe Vetch is endearing as meek cop Eddie whose loyalty and strutting Saturday Night Fever style makeover means he gets his gun as well as the girl. Sister Mary Robert finds her remarkable voice (belonging to the talented Sarah Goggin) along with the courage to wear Deloris’s blessed purple "FM" boots.

And of the course the biggest deliverance of all comes from the sisterhood and the relationship between Deloris and the brilliantly formidable Mother Superior. As they grow to like and respect each other and their respective beliefs, Karen Mann ensures the exasperation of the nun in charge is comically evident, and Alexandra Burke shows her fine acting prowess, drawing hearty laughs from the audience with her prayers: “In the name of the son, the Father and the Holy Smokes…Jesus Christ I want that dress!" – followed by heartfelt smiles as she glows beneath Mother Superior’s high praise: “As true a sister as this convent has ever known”.

Meanwhile the Opera House was postively glowing too, beneath falling glitter and a giant disco ball that sent lights shimmering across the magnificent auditorium and an exuberant audience - who all clearly agreed that Alexandra Burke and Sister Act are simply Fabulous, Baby!

Book tickets here 

Photos by Jay Brooks

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