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Review Roundup: SISTER ACT at the Eventim Apollo

Review Roundup: SISTER ACT at the Eventim Apollo

The show stars Beverley Knight, Keala Settle, Jennifer Saunders and more.

SISTER ACT is now open at London's Eventim Apollo, where it runs through 28 August. Jennifer Saunders stars as 'Mother Superior' alongside Beverley Knight as 'Deloris Van Cartier', Keala Settle as 'Sister Mary Patrick', Lesley Joseph as 'Sister Mary Lazarus', Clive Rowe as 'Eddie Souther' and Lizzie Bea as 'Sister Mary Robert'.

SISTER ACT has direction by Bill Buckhurst, choreography by Alistair David, Set and Costume Design by Morgan Large, Lighting Design by Tim Mitchell, Sound Design by Tom Marshall and Musical Supervision by Stephen Brooker. Casting is by Stuart Burt.

SISTER ACT features original music by Tony and 8-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Disney's Aladdin, Enchanted), lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane. SISTER ACT is produced by Jamie Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ryan Gilbey, Guardian: Over-extended for the stage, the show contains few of The Miracles required to feed the multitudes, though pluses include the colourful late-1970s, south Philadelphia setting and a cast headed by a full-throated, comically twitchy Beverley Knight (stepping in for Goldberg, who was set to reprise her screen role before the pandemic struck).

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard: We can only speculate whether Goldberg would have been a triumph or a car crash. So, let's thank God - or whoever - for Beverley Knight, whose vocal power and sassy stage presence lift a hodgepodge of a musical into something much brighter. Saunders's dry, acerbic head nun is a useful counterbalance to Knight's ebullience, even if she's not used here to best advantage. And Settle, Rowe and Lizzie Bea as doubting young postulant Sister Mary Robert all give stunning vocal performances that transcend the limits of the characters they are given. I know: faint praise.

Clive Davis, The Times: Praise the Lord, it's here at last. A prime victim of the pandemic, this revival of the nun-on-the-run musical was originally scheduled to open in 2020, with Whoopi Goldberg, no less, lined up to reprise the role she played in the hit film. After lockdown put paid to those plans, it fell to the soul singer Beverley Knight to take over as Deloris Van Cartier, the salty nightclub singer who goes into hiding in a convent to escape her gangster boyfriend.

TimeOut London: I don't really have a huge amount more to add: 'Sister Act' is an okay musical, revived with a decent cast and reasonable charm. It's fine. But the whole point of this production was to bring Whoopi Goldberg here and she's not here. I don't think the producers should be blamed for persisting with it, and they may not have had much choice. But while there's much here to like, at its heart this is event theatre without the actual event.

Sam Marlowe, Metro: Bill Buckhurst's spangly new staging isn't quite zingy enough, but Morgan Large's designs sprinkle the 1970s Philadelphia setting with Starsky & Hutch fashions and rainbow sequins, and a cast of familiar faces deliver Disney regulars Alan Menken and Glenn Slater's funky songs with a wink and a twinkle.

Suzy Evans, London Theatre: Beverley Knight is giving a performance as Dolores van Cartier that makes you think, "Whoopi Goldberg, who?" The role requires reinvention for the stage, and from her otherworldly vocals to her impeccable comedic timing, Knight absolutely redefines and becomes this iconic character. The entire cast is stacked, and each performance leaves you wishing there was a whole musical centered around each nun. Lizzie Bea is a bonafide star as the young Sister Mary Robert, and her Act 2 anthem "The Life I Never Led" had me in tears. Jennifer Saunders delivers her trademark comedy magic as Mother Superior, while Keala Settle's Sister Mary Patrick hits all the punchlines and notes.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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