Sister Act

May 12 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆      Sisters steal it

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh: Wed 11 – Sat 14 May 2016
Review by Susan Lowes

Encore are taking to the habit at the Brunton theatre in Musselburgh until Saturday convincing everyone that it’s fun to be a nun!

Sister Act is the stage version of the 1992 comedy feel-good film starring Whoopi Goldberg. It’s the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a lounge-singing diva who craves the spotlight.

After witnessing a murder, Delores is placed in protective custody until the case comes to trial and she can testify. The twist being that the only place she can go is a convent.

The Cast of Sister Act. Photo: Encore

The Cast of Sister Act. Photo: Encore

Deloris becomes Sister Mary Clarence – and let’s just say it’s not the most natural fit in the world for her. But it’s a charming, funny and heart-warming tale that doesn’t fail to bring a smile to your face and a tap to your feet.

Sadly for fans of the original film, Bill and Cheri Steinkellner’s musical adaptation doesn’t contain its familiar pop songs. It can be hard to watch something so very well-known, but not know a single song.

However, that’s where Encore’s production really shines. The camaraderie and the energy of the nuns on stage is a credit to the cast. The female cast are the show’s saving grace. There’s a real sense that they’ve captured the spirit of Sister Act. And this comes through very clearly, despite numerous sound and microphone issues on opening night.

Alison Hendry is Fabulous, Baby as Deloris. A firm favourite leading lady in a number of Encore’s productions, Hendry proves, yet again, that she is a star and, like Deloris, she deserves the spotlight.

She leads the cast as the wilful, assured lounge-singer, but she does so with heart and soul. There’s the sense that Hendry could lead you anywhere and you’d go!

perfectly pitched

Deloris’ strong will is matched at the convent by the Mother Superior, who is reticent to hide the star, disapproves of just about everything she does and does her best to get rid of her. Hazel Gray’s performance as the Mother Superior perfectly pitched. She’s stern and she’s vulnerable, but in the true essence of the films comedic roots, Gray hits the right level of humour to be endearing.

It’s no surprise that the supporting nuns are also very well portrayed on stage. Becky Duncan-Skelton and Gillian Hunter as the exuberant Sister Mary Patrick and the shy, but fervently loyal Sister Mary Robert are a pleasure to watch. Anne Henry also puts in a great performance as a slightly cantankerous older nun.

However, there are aspects of Encore’s production that do need a little bit of fine-tuning. Opening night sound problems are one thing, but while the set was very well done with a wonderful array of scenes, it could benefit from more slick stage management during set changes. And unfortunately it often felt as though some of the male cast had not benefited from as much direction as their female counterparts.

On the whole, though, Encore’s Sister Act is very enjoyable and entertaining. It also casts a new light on an old tale, further accentuating the unbreakable bond of sisterhood and sacrifice.

While you might not know the songs at the beginning, by the time the curtain comes down you’ll be convinced that you did – and most importantly you’ll leave with a smile on your face.

Running time: 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Brunton Theatre, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh EH21 6AA
Wed 11 to Sat 14 May 2016, Evenings 7.30pm.
Tickets and details:

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