The heavens have shone upon us and given us Sister Act, the UK tour. The musical is currently touring the UK with Alexandra Burke billed as the lead character ‘Deloris Van Cartier – AKA Sister Mary Clarence’. However, a notice on the theatre doors informs us that for tonight’s performance, Deloris Van Cartier will be played by Joanna Francis due to an unwell Alexandra Burke being unable to perform. You could immediately sense the disappointment for some fans, but these things happen so I went in with an open mind.
Directed by ‘Strictly’s’ Craig Revel Horwood, you could tell this was going to be a FAB-U-LOUS show – I spied disco balls!
For the stage adaptation it’s set in the late 1970’s when disco fever was rife, Sister Act tells the story of wannabe star soul singer Deloris Van Cartier (Joanna Francis). Desperate to hit the big time, she believes that good-for-nothing boyfriend Curtis Jackson (Aaron Lee Lambert) will introduce her to a record producer. A second hand Christmas gift, in the shape of Curtis’s wife’s blue fur coat makes her realise that Curtis is full of empty promises and sets off to break up with him. She walks in on Curtis shooting another man, scared and fearing for her own life she runs…straight to the police station.
Deloris reports Curtis’s crime to police officer (and old school friend) Eddie (Jon Vetch), who informs Deloris that her life is now in danger and she must go into hiding. Eddie comes up with the great idea of hiding Deloris in a convent. Now known as Sister Mary Clarence, Deloris is fully aware that she does not belong there and rebels against the limitations put upon her, despite her new friends insisting ‘It’s Good to be a Nun‘. Deloris heads out to a local bar, followed by some of her fellow nuns and slips into old habits by shaking off her new one, she is almost spotted by Curtis’s cronies but she and the other nuns manage to escape back to the convent without being seen.
Eddie the cop and Mother Superior are furious with Deloris for putting herself and the other nuns in danger, Deloris is ‘punished’ by being sent to work with the convent choir. This turns out to be her calling, she turns the tuneless sister’s into soul sista’s, which brings more visitors to the struggling church and fame to the sheltered nuns. Mother Superior, fed up of Deloris’ antics and influence on the other nuns, orders Deloris to leave and let’s the nuns know that Deloris is not who they think she is. Deloris flees the convent and seeks solace with Eddie, she soon feels guilty and returns to the convent to perform the big show with her sister’s.
Curtis finds out where Deloris is and breaks into the convent to kill her. As she begs for her life, the nuns intervene and protect her, allowing Eddie to storm in and save the day.
Deloris rewards Eddie with a much longed for kiss and Mother Superior shares an uneasy truce with Deloris as the show goes on for the pope.
Joanna Francis more than filled Alexandra Burke’s star-studded shoes, she burst out of them. Her voice was powerful and soulful in equal measure, and her sass commanded the stage along with her comedy timing.
With such funny, light-hearted scenes and catchy musical numbers, you can’t fail to feel uplifted during and after this show. Ok, so it doesn’t have any of the original songs from the film, but that doesn’t matter you will enjoy these ones just as much…especially with the disco balls!
The entire cast are oozing with talent – singing, dancing and playing instruments, all whilst acting…now that’s multi-tasking.
Go and see Sister Act at Nottingham‘s Theatre Royal and prepare to be taken to heaven.