Sister Act, The Mayflower, Southampton

Last night's review: Sister Act at the Mayflower

Last night's review: Sister Act at the Mayflower

First published in Stage Reviews Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Entertainments Editor

WITH an exceptional cast of all singing, all dancing, high kicking nuns in sequins, this is a heavenly night’s entertainment.

A dazzling triumph from start to finish, Sister Act opened a two-week run by raising the rafters and having the crowd in ecstatic stitches.

Cynthia Erivo is utterly exceptional throughout in the lead role.

Her pivotal relationship with the disapproving Mother Superior – a quite brilliant Denise Black – is at times fractious, at times moving and at times utterly hysterical.

This incredible ensemble piece has too many standout performances to mention but the outlandish Monsignor O’Hara (Michael Starke), unlikely hero Eddie Souther (Edward Baruwa) and the most ridiculous villain TJ (Tyrone Huntley) will stick in the memory long after curtain down.

I adored the superb, snazzy sisters, particularly Julie Atherton as the faith doubting youngster Sister Mary Robert and Jacqueline Clarke as badly behaved veteran Sister Mary Lazarus.

The plot remains faithful to the 1992 hit movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, also a producer of the stage version.

When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, police place her in protective custody – in a convent.

Soon, the nuns’ conservative habits and uninspiring hymns are replaced with glittering cloaks and crowds are flocking to church.

But that’s where the similarities end. Sister Act the musical is set in the 1970s with a different, truly superb score and, after hearing the delightful disco vibe of Take Me To Heaven and Fabulous Baby, I can’t imagine it any other way.

The immediacy of the stage performance and the musical and comedy talent on show here leave the film version a poor second.

This is an uplifting and infectious show. There are dozens of laugh out loud moments, the orchestra deliver on every note and last night’s audience were wanting more long after the end of a glittering finale with a sparkling Virgin Mary and dozens of stained glass windows as backdrop.

Sister Act is utterly divine. It would be a sin not to enjoy it.

It runs until Saturday, March 3.

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