A friend of mine came by London and stayed for the weekend. Determined to make full use of her two nights' stay here, she decided to catch a musical each evening. She caught Les Miserables for the first evening and was suitably impressed with its revolving stage and the young street urchin, Gavroche's cheekiness.
Upon seeing Sister Act adverts splashed all across London Underground, she got her tickets the very same day. As we have not seen Sister Act, the musical that is, we decided to tagged along.
The Movie vs the Musical
Sister Act, a 1992 smash hit comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier who was hidden away at a traditional Catholic convent in witness protection program as Sister Mary Clarence, captured a generation's imagination with its uplifting hymns. These included I Will Follow Him, Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Hail Holy Queen. So I guess those heading for the musical Sister Act playing at London Palladium would expect more of the same. I hate to disappoint you but though Sister Act the musical stuck loosely to the original storyline, it came across quite different compared to the movie.
For one, none of the songs that propelled Sister Act to fame featured in the musical. However, Sister Act the musical took entertainment to a whole new level. Not only new songs were added, original characters were also given an added dimension and the props were nothing short of astonishing. Even though London Palladium is larger than the average West End theatre, the sheer presence of the cast kept the audience at the edge of their seats throughout the show.
Strong performance by supporting cast
The police officer who hid Deloris in the original movie was given a larger part to play. In the musical, 'Sweaty' Eddie, the desk bound police officer, happened to hold a torch for Deloris back in school. Look out for his solo performance, I Could Be That Guy, which came across as hilarious yet touching.
The three goons serving Mr. Jarman, Deloris's mob boyfriend, who were instantly forgettable in the movie, were given far meatier roles in the musical. Together 'Sweaty' Eddie, the goons played credible supporting roles that made Sister Act the musical much more entertaining than the movie itself. Also look out for the conductor (oh yes!) who played a cameo in the final scene from the orchestra pit.
The props alone, with its revolving mechanism, which automation requires intricate coordination with precise timing, was worth every penny of ticket price. However, in order to appreciate the full effect of it all, I would recommend getting the stalls seats as anything seat higher than the stage just wouldn't do. You can get stall tickets at TKTS at £42.50 on the day itself (subject to availability). However, you could also get advance tickets over here.
Set in the 60s, Sister Act, a 'holier' version of Saturday Night Fever, is a treat for disco fans. Even though it detracted from the original storyline, this Broadway number added glitter to the West End scene.
Argyll Street, London W1F 7TF