Landi Oshinowo as Deloris Van Cartier and company. Pictures: Mark Senior

Sister Act

Coventry Belgrade


It’s hard to believe that its 31 years since the movie Sister Act starring Whoopi Goldberg and her portrayal of Deloris Van Cartier became a major success, first appearing way back in 1992.

The film followed the improbable, but very funny journey, of a sleazy lounge singer on the run from the bad guys, who goes into the protective custody of a convent and while there, she takes over the struggling convents choir and in doing so saves the church from its impending closure.

Adapting Sister Act to the stage first came about in 2006 in Pasadena, California, before moving on to a West End production in London in 2009. The book was adapted by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, and the music and lyrics were composed by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, respectively. It’s hard when you listen to the musical content not to instantly feel Menken’s melodic touch similar to that he brought to so many Disney Classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

It’s this quality that infuses Sister Act with catchy and memorable songs that capture the spirit of the film while adding new layers of depth and humour to the story.

The current production at the Belgrade Theatre proves the musical is timeless and while the story seems cartoon like at times, it inevitably pulls you in, to its glittery exaggerated conclusion.

Landi Oshinowo takes on the feisty character of Deloris Van Cartier and although her powerful vocals and fine stage presence set the tone for the entire production with songs like Take Me to Heaven her performance does not dominate which means other areas of the show can shine and are highly entertaining as well.


Alfie Parker as Eddie Souther and company

A great example of this is with Alfie Parker as Eddie Souther the caring police officer. His version of I Could Be That Guy is both surprising in his demeanour and his perfect pop vocals. Here the performance, clever staging and instantaneous costume changes won the audience over to an instant standing ovation.

Of course a lot of the pure comedy comes from the Nuns. Led by the endearing Mother Superior, played by Lori Haley Fox, they slowly transition from the tone deaf convent choir to a raunchy girl band with their habits still intact. When Sister Act, the title track, is performed by Deloris and the nuns, it marks a celebration of girl power and good old sisterhood and uplifts the entire production.

Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert, the insecure Nun who doubts her voice and faith, excelled with her performance of The Life I Never had.

Over the years the musical adaptation of Sister Act has won a cabinet worth of awards. Amongst them it has received four Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, and winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in the original West End production.

It’s easy to see why as the quality of the music, its flamboyant staging, witty one-liners, physical comedy, and clever situational humour keep keeps the audience thoroughly entertained throughout.

All of that makes this current production, directed by Bill Buckhurst with Choreography by Alastair David, a seriously hard act to follow. Deloris will be hiding out in the cloisters at the Belgrade to 14-10-23.

Jeff Grant


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