As someone who has not seen the Whoopi Goldberg film adaptation of Sister Act, I sat down in the theatre without a point of comparison, which I thought would allow for a more measured review of the stage production. My overall impression was that the show was watchable and by no means boring, but unfortunately I did find it rather uninspiring.
However, this is not to downplay the positives. Alexandra Burke’s voice was fabulous and, I felt, really complimented the personality of the character. I was pleasantly surprised by this, as I had concerns that her X-Factor background would have steered her performance to be too formulaic, but she did not disappoint at all. That girl can sing.
I really enjoyed the story-line, as I thought placing a protected witness in a convent for protection was actually a very good idea, as ironic as the concept was supposed to be for Deloris’ character. I was also pleased to see some personal development on Deloris’ part.
However, this is not saying much for her character, as she was rather shallow and bratty in the early part of the story. The downside to the story was the unnecessary and utterly unconvincing love story, shoe-horned in at the end with zero contribution to the enjoyment of the performance. There was very little chemistry or build-up for their affection and Deloris seemed to spend her time either irritated with or indifferent towards Eddie.
With regards to the characters, I found them one-dimensional and predictable, so much so that I did not really care what happened to any of them in the end. In fact, I did think that the story would acquire some drama if Curtis had actually shot Deloris in the penultimate scene, which only contributes to my feeling that the story was really lacking depth.
The musical performance of the nuns was highly enjoyable, and their ability to harmonise horrendously to illustrate the character’s inability to sing at the beginning was very funny and, I can imagine, highly skilled. Much of the remaining jokes were rather lost on me, as apparently they referred to 1970s popular culture, which I understand is owing to my lack of knowledge rather than the fault of the musical.
The songs were enjoyable whilst they lasted, but unfortunately were forgettable, which, seeing as the story-line seemed to have been hung around the songs, is a bit of a shame. Overall, I feel happy to have had the opportunity to see the musical and I always enjoy a bit of cheese in a stage show. However, I do feel it was rather cheese for cheese’s sake, which did not appeal to my tastes.
Sister Act is being performed at Norwich Theatre Royal May 1-6