Review: Sister Act, Grand Opera House

14 Sep 2014 @ 11.46 am
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Stunning voice: Cleopatra Rey as Sister Mary Clarence

  Sister Act by York Stage Musicals
  Grand Opera House, September 13

Sister Act blew into the Grand Opera House tonight with a huge slice of Seventies cheese. The lighting, costumes and dance moves transported us back to the era of John Travolta and disco balls.

Don’t go to see this show if you’re expecting the music from the movie – none of it appears here. That said, the songs that are in the show are fun, upbeat and work brilliantly with the story line.

Cleopatra Rey took on the difficult role of Deloris Van Cartier/ Sister Mary Clarence and did an excellent job of it. Her voice is stunning.

It was good to see some familiar faces back on the stage as well; Martin Rowley took on the role of the Monsignor and played the Irish cleric perfectly, a total contrast to his stiff upper-lipped British butler when I last saw him in Annie.

Sandy Nicholson was excellent as Sister Mary Lazarus, rapping away at one point; again a big contrast to when I saw her play the narrator in Peter Pan.

One of my daughter’s favourites was Jed Berry who had small roles as a Drag Queen and gay dancer.

Joe Wawrzyniak plays Deloris’ criminal boyfriend Curtis Jackson. He looked suave and rather handsome, as he waved his gun in the air, and had a good voice to boot.

Mikhail Lim plays Lt Eddie Souther aka sweaty Eddie, and has some great numbers, not least the one where he has a Travolta-style costume change mid song.

There’s a huge energy on stage in some of the numbers, particularly the ones in the finale. This cast has worked extremely hard and it shows

Ashley Standland deserves a mention for his portrayal of Pablo as well. I didn’t recognise him in the programme minus his scary deep orange tan.

The story sees Doloris take a ramshackle choir of nuns and transforms them. Trust me, in that first choir scene it wasn’t only the Monsignor that had tears in his eyes; it was so tuneless it was painful.

The contrast to their later numbers in the show when Doloris has trained them was astounding. Full credit to this troupe of singers for their convincing performance.

The set design is one of the best I have seen. The high arches of the church and the stained glass windows worked perfectly on the stage.

Clever use of smaller pieces of set and lighting helped move the performance from location to location.

As I mentioned before, the music isn’t the same as the movie and there are subtle differences in the storyline as well. What is the same is the enthusiasm that you feel for the characters.

There’s a huge energy on stage in some of the numbers, particularly the ones in the finale. This cast has worked extremely hard and it shows.

Although the music was a little too loud for me on occasion, the singing voices were more than enough of a match. There are some excellent singers on stage, although with the nuns habits it’s hard sometimes to work out who is who.

Three of the loudest cheers at the end of the show were for Cleoptra Rey as Deloris, Julie-Anne Smith as the Mother Superior and Jo Theaker as Sister Mary Robert. Jo’s solo stood out as having the loudest round of applause after it.

In all it’s an entertaining, funny and talented performance. My daughter and I enjoyed it a lot.

  Sister Act is at the Grand Opera House until Saturday, September 20

  More details and tickets from the theatre website

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