It is a beloved movie, and with Whoopi Goldberg as the lead, there are some serious shoes to fill. But Alexandra Burke last night proved that not only does she have an incredible voice, but she is also a comic natural as she took on the role of Dolores Von Cartier in ‘Sister Act’ at the Wolverhampton Grand. Directed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, the show was an absolute hoot, a real crowd pleaser with brilliant performances from the whole cast, and non more brilliant that the pocket diva in the lead. Alexandra is Dolores, and Dolores is a total star.
‘Sister Act’ follows the same story as the film. Dolores Von Cartier is waiting for her married lover, nightclub boss and Hoodlum Curtis, to make her a music star in the vein of her heroine Donna Summer. It’s Christmas 1977 and the future looks bright, but then Dolores witnesses Curtis kill one of his fellow hoodlums and flees to the police, meeting an old school friend who is now a cop, ‘sweaty’ Eddie. Dolores is put into a protection in the one place that the police think Calvin would never look, a Catholic church and convent under the care of the Mother Superior. There Dolores first of all struggles, but once put in charge of the choir she finds her true calling. But making the choir a media sensation is not the best idea, and Dolores is soon back in Curtis’s firing line. Will the church and Dolores be saved?
As Dolores, Alexandra Burke is sharp, sassy and oh so funny. A little bird told me that she was afraid she wouldn’t be funny, but she is a comic natural, her timing is perfect, and she can raise laughs from her mannerisms, her looks and gestures, particularly when she is dancing in her nun’s garbs. She has so many standout moments, from telling the Mother Superior how she has prayed for a white fur like Donna Summer, to heading to the local bar with a raft of fellow nuns in tow. Her musical performances are what you would expect from a consummate pop performer, particularly great on ‘Take me to Heaven’ a song which recurs throughout the show and is surely a lost Donna Summer number.
While Alexandra is the star, the supporting roles are pitch perfect too. Karen Mann is funny and likeable as the Mother Superior who just wants things to go back to normal, and has quite a liking for red wine. The Nuns are all brilliant, with Sarah Goggin showing the voice of an angel as Sister Mary Robert, the youngest and most vulnerable of the Sister’s. Aaron Lee Lambert is a suitably villainous Curtis, playing the role firmly tongue-in-cheek as a sort of Barry White/Richard Roundtree from Shaft hybrid, and supported brilliantly by a trio of cartoonish hoodlums Pablo (Ricky Rojas), Joey (Samuel Morgan-Grahame) and TJ (Sandy Grigelis). They bring the house down with their ‘Let’s get it on’ style song ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ which is hilariously sleezy.
The cast is nicely rounded out by Tim Maxwell Clarke as Monsignor O Hara, a sympathetic, forward thinking character with a taste for disco, and the brilliantly lovely Joe Vetch as Eddie. Shy and nervous, but with a John Travolta fighting to get out, Vetch’s ‘I could be that guy’ is another standout song, with a performance chorused by drunks and down and outs – total madness, very funny.
Sister Act takes all the best of the disco era, the music, the disco balls, Donna Summer, faux fur and FM boots (watch and see), and then combines this with nuns – who knew that would prove to be a perfect combination? The ultimate feelgood story is a musical with a lot of hear and soul, and a whole lot of belly laughs.
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Tue 28 Feb – Sat 4 Mar
Click here for Ticket information.