Sister Act The Musical – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Christine Goode, November 2023
The Sisters are back and doing it for themselves, gracing the good people of Bradford with their heavenly presence and lifting spirits to extraordinary heights with this feel-good divine musical.
The atmosphere at the packed Alhambra theatre is electric and Sister Act clearly appeals to a diverse demographic of all ages and backgrounds. Many here have seen this show more than once, and this production is, without a doubt, the best I’ve seen so far.
The original film, released in 1992 and starring Whoopi Goldberg, was a huge hit and went on to produce a sequel (Back in the Habit) and there are talks of a third in the air. This musical adaptation doesn’t play fast and loose with the popular story and retains the film’s joyful, slightly anarchic feel.
We follow the journey of lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier, played by Landi Oshinowo, who witnesses her boyfriend kill someone and is forced into witness protection. She finds herself in a struggling convent with few parishioners, little money, and a roof in dire need of repair. Mother Superior, played by Lesley Joseph, insists that she must live as a nun and be known as Sister Mary Clarence. The story takes us on a hilarious journey as Deloris makes unusual friendships and unexpectedly helps to rescue the church.
Oshinowo portrays this larger-than-life character beautifully, with outstanding vocals and an infectious stage presence. Lesley Joseph is the best Mother Superior I have seen. We expected her trademark comic timing, but were thrilled and surprised by her fine singing. Local Lad, Bradley Judge, is back on home turf and gives a standout performance as numbskull TJ. Alfie Parker nails it as policeman Eddie Southern (Steady Eddie) when he sings ‘I Could Be That Guy’, delivering a few surprises along the way. The nuns are all exceptional with memorable turns from Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert, Jackie Pulford as Sister Mary Lazarus, and Lori Haley Fox as Sister Mary Martin of Tours.
Set and Costume Design by Morgan Large is impressive and colourful , with fabulous costumes, lots of glitz and glamour and even disco balls! Not exactly what you would expect from a convent. Stained-glass windows cover all aspects of a struggling cathedral as it progresses from run-down to renovated.
The soundtrack by Alan Menken is terrific, with every number from the melancholy ‘Hear Within These Walls’ to the disco busting ‘Take Me To Heaven’ becoming an earworm.
As I sit, toe tapping, listening along to my guest chuckling away, I realise with aching cheeks I have an enormous smile on my face. As I look around at other audience members I notice they too have the same expression – and this is just the first half! As the show continues its fast-paced fun and frolics into the second half, building to a fabulous joyous and uplifting ending, we are all up dancing and clapping – and I feel as if the Sister herself blessed us for this wonderful night at the theatre.
‘Sister Act The Musical’ is at Bradford Alhambra until 25th November
images: Mark Senior