268-269 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, London W1T 7AQ 0345 200 7982
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Previews from 15th March, opens 21st March 2024. Ends 31st August 2024.
Based on the iconic movie, this sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music tells the hilarious story of the disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.
The role of Deloris Van Cartier will be played by Beverley Knight, reprising her performance following sensational acclaim during the show’s run in London during the summer of 2022, from 15th March to 8th June 2024, and by Number One best-selling artist and musical theatre star Alexandra Burke, who returns to the role having previously played Deloris in the 2016 tour, from 10th June to 31st August 2024. Casting details are given for information only. Theatremonkey.com cannot be responsible for the non-appearance of any cast member.
From the show's 2022 run at Hammersmith Apollo (some actors have now left the cast)
(seen at the afternoon performance on 20th August 2022).
Two years late and minus Whoopi Goldberg, the monkey’s first surprise was that its ticket – issued in 2019 – scanned first time. It was pleased it did.
The story of lounge singer Delores Van Cartier, first seen as a film in 1992, gets this stage makeover and transposition of time and place to 1979 Philadelphia.
Morgan Large must take the first credit for outstanding set and costume designs adapted for the awkward space that is Hammersmith Apollo’s cinema rather than theatre stage.
As the programme interview reads, there are many short scenes in various locations – and this set does it all. “The 9th Circle” bar (witty in itself) has a hilarious beer pump, and the escape and roundup scenes are brilliantly executed.
The final costumes are Holy Quality Street, Eddie’s change neatly thought out, and a little nod for the toy penguin as well.
Director Bill Buckhurst points up the comedy aspect and works with choreographer (big typo in the programme!) Alistair David to keep the nuns moving even through a couple of surplus scenes and one redundant sub-plot. As a result, the show feels tighter than it is, much to both their credits.
Truthfully, the wise cracks (they missed an opportunity on the blue jacket souvenirs) and occasional clever lyrics carry some fairly unexceptional numbers. Fortunately, this production has a cast which can deliver them with enough panache to make them divine.
Beverley Knight as Deloris moves from the rank of Star West End Leading Lady to the absolute Global Elite with this performance. A vocal filling the Apollo barn, comedic timing and characterisation, and a few dance moves shaking the cloisters. Apparently, somebody called Goldberg was supposed to do the part, monkey can’t remember now.
Nemesis Mother Superior – Jennifer Saunders – turns out to be unlikely yet bright casting. Never presenting herself as a singer, her attempts must be applauded. Being able to make a chief nun funny is her skill, and with input from comedy consultant Charlie “Mischief Theatre” Russell plus genuinely tender moments of care for her sisters and self-realisation, it is a welcome performance.
Back among the famous names, Clive Rowe makes the most of police officer Eddie Souther. A song-and-dance number may be superfluous, but the fact it is there for him to perform is enough.
In key nun roles, Lesley Joseph’s grumpy Mary Lazarus amuses as her reluctant yielding of the choir proves a welcome entry into showbiz. Keala Settle’s voice is put to good use as Sister Mary Patrick, while Lizzie Bea is a loveable Sister Mary Robert, learning more about the world than she could hope from her strange new friend.
Jeremy Secomb as Curtis, the lover landing Deloris in the church in the first place, is nicely menacing. Relative TJ (Bradley Judge) is a limp shadow beautifully played, Tom Hopcroft as Joey and Damian Buhagiar as incomprehensible Pablo make up the rest of the well-matched goofily bad quartet.
All acquit themselves well in the action scenes, the final raid sequence simply one of the best the monkey has ever seen staged – even if Sister Mary Theresa’s (Tricia Deighton) bag wasn’t quite strong enough for the job.
A little note too for Graham MacDuff as a very showbiz Monsignor, with Elton John’s eyewear.
This is not a classic musical as it does not have a cornucopia of hits in the score and the book sags at times. A top quality production with outstanding cast, this version is very much an amusing diversion with real heart.
If not actually amazing, it is good to be a part of this Sister Act.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm (7pm on 21st March 2024)
Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
No 2.30pm performance on 16th March 2024.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
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