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Sister Act The Musical Hits The Road...
Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy
Member Name: kcsevenoaks
Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy
Advantages: Fantastic tunes and humour
My current reviews are all based on a trip to Oxford during the half term week, and the main purpose was to see Sister Act The Musical which left its London home at The Palladium over a year ago and has embarked on a nationwide tour. Its playing at some of the larger regional theatres and with Oxford being the closest to me I thought it was high time to get back into the Habit!
The New Theatre Oxford is quite grand for a regional theatre and in fairness on the inside it wouldn't look out of place in the West End. The auditorium is vast seating around 1300 people with a stalls section, circle and balcony. For this performance of Sister Act the balcony was closed, and the remaining stalls and circle was mainly full. I was seated to the rear of the circle and the seats were comfortable thought the legroom was small. I did have spare seats either side of me so could spread out. There is a bar area selling the usual drinks and snack in both the stalls and circle and there are ample toilet facilities which were well maintained and more importantly clean. It's roughly a ten minute walk from the station with plenty of restaurants etc in the near vicinity. For more info about the New Theatre go to www.newtheatreoxford.org.uk.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Sister Act The Musical is based on the smash hit Whoopi Goldberg Film of the same name, in which her character, lounge singer, Deloris Van Cartier, witness a mobland murder by her boyfriend, and must be placed in witness protection so she can testify against her boyfriend. She is place in a struggling convent and at finds it hard to adjust in many a comedic scene. Mother Superior is at her whit's end and puts Deloris (now known as Sister Mary Clarence) in charge of the choir. She breathes new life into the choir and in time boosts the dwindling church congregation and has them rocking in the aisles. In time Deloris is spotted by her boyfriend and has to leave the convent just before they are due to perform to the Pope. Though with a change of heart and deciding to risk it all decides to return to the convent even though she knows her boyfriend will most probably kill her. In true Hollywood comedy fashion there is a happy ending, with the convent surviving, Deloris surviving, the bad guys getting punished, but most importantly of all Deloris learns what is really true and worthwhile in life and feels part of the community within the convent.
Those who will have seen the film will know its full of great music, the musical, due to licensing difficulties has none of it and relies on a totally new score, written by Alan Menken who was responsible for many of the Disney songs. There is no need to worry though because the music is great and has a great mix of funky Mowtown inspired tunes such as "Take Me To Heaven" and "Sunday Morning Fever" and more ballady musical fayre such as the title track "Sister Act"
Those who saw the original London production will notice there are changes to the tour show and these are in line with the current Broadway production. It mainly a bit more streamline and polished though some songs have been cut like "The Sacred Mass" which makes the bar scene less enjoyable, and some have been slightly tweaked like the song where the nuns describe how they became nuns has now been rewritten as them singing about what their favourite part about being a nun is. I think the changes work well and everything seems a bit more slick.
The staging is good for a tour show, and good use is made of the limited technical aspects which come with a touring production. It does stay very true to the London production with its glitzy grand sets.
The cast were great, ex Coronation Street star, Denise Black plays and good Mother Superior though in all honesty at first I didn't like her portrayal at all, but I did warm to her in the end. Former Brookside actor Michael Starke is Monsignor O'Hara, and playing a fantastic Deloris is Cynthia Erivo. The whole cast were very strong and is full of experienced West End stars. A strong cast who performed excellently.
I really enjoyed this production. Having seen it twice in London I was looking forward to seeing it again, but also seeing the changes. If its in your area it's a must see if you like uplifting musicals. Ticket prices will vary venue to venue but generally are from £30-£50, for more information check out http://www.sisteractthemusical.com/tour/
Summary: A fantastic night out!
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