Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Book: Cheri &Bill Steinkellner
Director: Craig Revel Horwood
Reviewer: Sue Collier
An enthusiastic full house greets the opening night of Sister Act at Bradford cAlhambra. It has a strong start with great scenery which is creatively adapted to portray the church, a night club and the police station cells.
There are few well-known songs in this production, though there are several references to many familiar 1970s artists and song titles.
Set in 1977/78, the story is of singer Delores who witnesses her boyfriend Curtis murdering one of his cronies. When Curtis decides that Delores must also die she seeks protection from handsome police officer Eddie who hides her among a community of nuns. Eddie has the hots for Dolores.
This show contains a fabulous group of musicians who, instead of playing in the orchestra pit, take the role of various characters such as the trumpet playing Mother Superior, the guitar playing cronies and prisoners and nuns playing the fiddle, washboards, accordion and pipes.
Fresh from a hugely successful tour with The Bodyguard, the star of this show is certainly the versatile Alexandra Burke. Burke’s voice never falters. It is strong, mellow and hits some incredible bass tones. Burke makes high calibre singing appear effortless. It is also very evident that she is an accomplished musical theatre star with the ability to make her audience laugh while ensuring their feet never stop tapping. Her dancing is wonderfully expressive and comedic, and she sings with great expression in her vocal story telling.
The whole cast displays a great deal of energy and enthusiasm and present as though they are loving life. The cast is also immensely versatile with many artists playing a variety of roles. The show uses a great deal of fun and gentle humour.
There is a wonderfully funny scene introducing the choir of nuns who are unable to sing in key. It is clear that this is in fact a very carefully tuned song that will take a fair level of vocal skill to produce. Another strong feature is the scene in which Police Officer Eddie becomes a Saturday Night Fever type character during which the transformation of his various character roles is very well achieved. There is splendid male harmony singing to support this scene. The song Bless Us All is sung well by the nuns and is full of fabulous ringing chords. The duet between Burke and Karen Mann is also very pleasing to the ear.
Though this is a lively and uplifting show, it does lack a strong story line. Familiar songs and the inclusion of some more well-known numbers would help audiences to engage even further; however, the audience do like this show and give appreciative applause with an ovation for Burke.
Runs until 25 February 2017 then touring nationwide | Image: Tristram Kenton