Sister Act

Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Cheri & Bill Steinkellner

Jamie Wilson and The Curve Leicester

Opera House, Blackpool

From 22 August 2017 to 27 August 2017

Review by David Upton

If Alexandra Burke is saving any energy for her forthcoming appearances on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing next month then it’s difficult to see where she might be storing it...

Even in the final week of this year-long tour, she continues to give it all she’s got, and occasionally a little bit more, in a performance that cements her reputation as a genuine homegrown star of musical theatre. The X Factor ‘find’ makes her own distinctive mark on the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier, in much the same way she dazzled in the stage adaptation of The Bodyguard.

Deloris is the clubland diva who witnesses a murder and is forced to take refuge in a rundown convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds redemption in turning their ailing choir into a crowd-pulling attraction that turns around the convent’s fortunes.

Alexandra Burke is as comfortable with the comedy as the demands of a highly physical performance. And her voice performs its own special magic on the music of Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s lyrics.

That said, none of the songs will ever be as remotely memorable as the jukebox line-up that featured in the original Whoopi Goldberg cinema hit. For that reason, Sister Act the stage musical has always been a lightweight vehicle, usually given a punch well above its weight by the star of the show.

Director Craig Revel Horwood does his very best with the roof-lifting soul sister routines that bookend both sides of the interval, but the second act sags woefully in the middle when the story should really be picking up pace.

A huge ensemble cast come loaded with singing, acting, comedy and even instrumental credentials—who would have guessed at a full nuns’ brass section?

But there’s only ever going to be one star of this show, and on the evidence here she has to be a Strictly favourite too?