Sister Act Review – Storyhouse, Chester

Show:  Sister Act

Location: Chester Storyhouse

Date: Tuesday, June 25th – Saturday, June 29th
Time: 7.30

Running Time: 150 minutes

Age Rating: 12+

Director: Bill Buckhurst

Producer  Jamie W8lson

Book: Cheri and Bill Steinkellner
Set and Costume Designer: Morgan Large
Musical Director: Tom Slade
Choreographer: Alistair David
Sound Designer: Tom Marshall
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell

Music, surely, is the one thing in the world that everybody likes, uplifting us all. Now, speaking as somebody who loves nearly all music, not a huge fan of musicals because the plot is often trampled on. But I do believe this is the first time a musical has actually won me over, almost wholly down to the songs. Halfway through, I was first captivated by It’s good to be a nun, so exuberant, and so silly. And then, completely different, the poignant I could be that guy, from the most unlikely hero, lovely, cuddly cop, Eddie Souther.

Synopsis Of Sister Act

Beautifully, sweetly sung but what a shame Alfie Parker seemed compelled to play some of it for laughs. A cheap trick in the end, particularly when Sister Mary Robert shows how it should be done, as does the tile: The life I never had. Eloise Runnette makes a lovely job of the postulant coming slowly out of her shell and then completely smashing it to bits. There’s also I haven’t got a prayer, wryly sung by the Mother Superior; the excellent Wendi Peter who is also a first-class down to earth foil to our sassy yet vulnerable heroine, Deloris Von Cartier ( Landi Oshinowo). No delusions of grandeur there then.

Of course there are, which is why she sticks with her boyfriend, mobster Curtis Jackson (Ian Gareth-Jones), thinking him a shortcut to fortune and fame, until she sees him commit murder. Cue a barmy plot where Eddie’s idea of witness protection is for her to take cover, and the veil, in a nunnery. Keeping a low profile? At the same time, she is coaching the choir which becomes so well known and successful they raise enough money to prevent the church being taken over as an antiques emporium. The massive gothic building is beautifully evoked with a huge stained glass window and decorative background, whilst the police station, neighbourhood bar, etc are briefly and neatly conjured up.

Analysis Of Sister Act

The programme, incidentally, is one of the heftiest I’ve had to wield, and misleading since it features the West End cast but I’m willing to bet Lesley Joseph played Sister Mary Lazarus (yes, I shall look it up) but even she couldn’t be as humorous as the lugubrious Julie Stark, in every scene but especially when she has a go at being a rapper. And fair play, all the sisters are excellent but unfortunately, seen one nun, seen them all (just five out of the eight are in the cast list…) so it’s only possible to include Isabel Canning (at a guess, admittedly) as the joyful Sister Mary Patrick.

Speaking of joy, Phillip Arran is heavenly as hip Monsignor O’Hara, and double act Amber Kennedy (Tina) and Esme Laudat (Michelle) are supremely delightful backing Doloris. As for Jackson’s trio of henchmen, TJ, Pablo, and Joey ( Elliot Gooch; Michalis Antonious; Callum Martin), they aim to please, and repeatedly hit the mark, going completely bonkers, camping, and amping up, stealing the scene where he sings When I find my baby. Deservedly, they later have one all to themselves and even manage to make sexism hilarious, just, with Lady in the long black dress.

Summary Of Sister Act

The whole show enhances naturally with its 70s setting, with amazing costumes, and even more amazing disco. All that glitters is not always gold? This weighs in with a star-spangled finale where the marvellous cast reinforces the sense of community, the love, and respect they have all learned to share, and to express.

And yes, unbelievers, I’m talking to you: make sure you don’t miss something miraculous. Because Sister Act is a revelation.