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Sister Act | Buxton Opera House

Silly, over the top, and an utter joy to experience, Sister Act has been delighting audiences on stage for almost 20 years, but has had a particularly potent renaissance in the past couple of years, with two runs in the West End since 2022. Having seen the show in Manchester two years ago, this touring production provides just as much energy, campness and heart as ever, and certainly didn’t feel like a lower budget version to any degree.

Based on the Whoopi Goldberg film of 1992, Sister Act follows aspiring club singer Deloris Van Cartier, her toxic relationship with gangster boyfriend Curtis, and how it leads to her having to be placed in witness protection, in a convent of well-meaning but misguided nuns. Though dubious of her initially, especially the mother superior, the convent come to accept her as one of their own, and the far fetched but terrifically entertaining plot centres around how music can affect and transform even the most timid of us.

The show features a score by musical composition legend Alan Menken, with typically diverse, uplifting, and terrifically catchy music, most notably in the rousing Take Me to Heaven, which is reprised in various guises throughout to tie everything together brilliantly; and not unlike its London counterpart, this production treats us to a truly stellar, albeit lesser known cast comprising a multitude of talented performers. Landi Oshinowo is superb as leading protagonist Deloris, especially having had to follow so many great performers into the role, but she absolutely makes it her own, with her vocals the true standout, which she delivers with power, gumption, and true soul.

There were so many other top notch performances that any one of them could have a paragraph dedicated to them, however the main standouts were Eloise Runnette, who charmed as the shy and awkward, but secretly ambitious Mary Robert, with Isabel Canning giving us fabulous energy and optimism as Mary Patrick, and Julie Stark’s dour sardonicism, yet dominant swagger providing us with a truly hilarious Mary Lazarus.

Vocals all round were top drawer as well, with some excellent solo moments and marvellously well executed ensemble work, and all accompanied masterfully by musical director Tom Slade and his band. If there was one slight disappointment, it was that the sound levels, at times, didn’t necessarily lend themselves to a good sense of diction, with some of the lyrics, especially in more upbeat ensemble numbers, getting lost in a sea of sound. But that, in the grander scheme of things, does little to distract from the fact that this is a fun, unashamedly camp, and hugely enjoyable piece of theatre, that reminds us musicals don’t have to be profound or complex in order to entertain.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Mark Senior


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