The story is the same, the characters are familiar, however all thoughts of Whoopi Goldberg are dispelled within a few minutes as Burke claims the role as her own and has a great stage presence. It’s a heart warming performance. She has all the right ingredients, a rich powerful vocal coupled with emotion that is convincing and comic timing too.
The story is set in 1977 and having witnessed a murder, nightclub singer Deloris agrees to give evidence against her ex, to put him away for life. There’s one problem, if he gets to her first he’ll kill her. To save her life, and his key witness, local copper ‘Sweaty Eddie’ arranges for the singer to hide in the local convent disguised as a nun. It’s not long, however, before Deloris is drawing attention to herself and her holy sisters, putting them all at risk. If Burke is the star of the show, she has top notch support from her fellow nuns.
Other cast members also get to shine, from Karen Mann as Mother Superior to Joe Vetch as nice guy cop ‘Sweaty’ Eddie. Aaron Lee Lambert is the criminal Curtis while Sarah Goggin and Susannah Van Den Berg are clearly having a ball as singing Sisters Mary Patrick and Mary Robert
Another standout moment sees goons TJ, Joey and Pablo, aka Sandy Grigelis, Samuel Morgan-Grahame and Ricky Rojas, try to seduce the Lady in the Long Black Dress.
Matthew Wright’s adaptable convent set and Seventies chic costumes add to the atmosphere, as does the lighting by Richard G Jones. Strictly Come Dancing judge Revel Horwood’s direction is sharp, with most of his dramatic choices as effective as his dance sequences. Sister Act is a hugely enjoyable uplifting show, full of energy.
The show has original songs and they’re almost all gems from soulful ballads to high energy disco numbers, Motown pastiches, including the song for a tipsy Mother Superior, all moving the story along while revealing character. Especially that drunk song, Haven’t Got a Prayer from Karen Mann, who acts her socks off as she lets her fears about lounge singer Deloris fly free.
This show really is fabulous, you should not miss it
Running time: Two hours and 50 minutes (including the interval)
* The Regent Theatre & Victoria Hall, Bagnall St, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3AD ( 01782 211204 )
Box Office 0844 871 7649 (bkg fee) www.atgtickets.com/stoke (bkg fee)