Sister Act comes to Oxford

Mum and I headed to the New Theatre in Oxford for ‘Sister Act’, which has been in residence over the last week. Choreographed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood and starring Alexandra Burke – we were both particularly excited to watch the show.

We saw Alexandra as Rachel Marron in UK tour of ‘The Bodyguard‘, it was practically the perfect role for her. If you remember Alexandra from her time on X Factor some of her most memorable performances were Whitney Housten numbers, belting ‘I will always love you’. Alexandra’s vocals are powerful and emotional – qualities she brought to the character of Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act. But as well as the powerful voice, Alexandra’s Deloris is one sassy nun with a wicked sense of humour. Whoopi would be proud.

Sister Act features an original score by Alan Menken (Little Mermaid, Aladdin) and the story has been updated since the 1992 blockbuster. Set in 70s Philadelphia, soul music dominating the charts, Deloris is auditioning her signature tune ‘Take Me to Heaven‘ at her boyfriend’s nightclub. Curtis, Deloris’ beau, is a classic sleazy stud, with bell bottoms and an afro and is played by Aaron Lee Lambert. Deloris witnesses Curtis shoot one of his stooges and with the help of local copper, Eddie, enters witness protection as a nun.

Deloris or Sister Mary Clarence is not exactly welcomed with open arms by Mother Superior played by Karen Mann; her vocals are incredibly impressive, especially during her drunken rendition of ‘Haven’t got a prayer‘. Karen brings a poignancy to balance out Alexandra’s sass.

It was clear that the whole ensemble were consummate professionals. Curtis’ three camp stooges had a wonderful number when they attempted to worm their way into the nun’s knickers. And the nuns go from god awful to saintly. When you are a marvellous singer, it must be so hard to deliberately sing out of tune…

The band played on stage and I always marvel at musicians who are able to 1. memorise all their notes 2. and dance whilst playing. Having played the clarinet for some years, I struggled with a simple rock from side to side during a rendition of Mambo No. 5 with the school jazz band! It was great seeing the musicians play centre stage rather than sidelined into the orchestra pit.

At the end, Eddie, played by Joe Vetch and sports an 118-118-st moustache, gets the girl and cuffs the criminal. As Alexandra descends the heavenly stairs, in a glittery white frock and white fur – ever the Donner Summers, the audience was on their feet in well-deserved adoration. It was the best show I’ve seen at the New Theatre since the Bodyguard last year. Sister Act is touring the country throughout 2017 and will be back in the Bristol during August. Get tickets for Sister Act here on the ATG website.


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