Theatre Review: Sister Act @ Oxford New Theatre
by Evie Bennett
After a long day at work, a cocktail of ostentatious musical comedy “camp-ness” was just what I needed to kick the worries and stresses away. This theatrical adaptation of the classic 1990s film did just that; a hypnotic blend of vocals, comedy and camaraderie.
In the first act I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of sophisticated choreography in the musical numbers, meaning that the performance took a while to get going and whet my appetite for the second act. However, as the second act begun, any doubts I had were forgotten and the production blossomed with intoxicating effect.
Credit is due to set designer, Matthew Wright for his creation of an interactive set that allowed the audience to feel fully immersed in the imposing setting of a Californian convent. The illusion of deep corridors leading to other areas of the convent was particularly impressive, giving the sense of a vastness to protagonist, Deloris’s, unfamiliar dwelling. The contrast of her glittery costumes against the stark melancholic scenery highlighted the unfamiliarity of the place, and so emphasised the journey she takes throughout the narrative. The use of characters for scene changes maintained the fluidity of the production; there is nothing I hate more than when the magic of theatre is broken when a little man dressed in black runs on stage, whilst a cliché musical interlude is smashed out by the orchestra.
The use of live on stage musicians was a refreshing addition to the musical, creating a deeper theatrical experience. This, combined
with the natural chemistry of the actors sanctioned an emotive performance of the beguiling friendship of the sisterhood of nuns; the actors clearly understood the motivations of their characters.
Alexandra Burke shone as the iconic role of Deloris Van Cartier. As a winner of The X Factor I knew her vocals would be impressive, but what was most suprising was her talent as a performer. She engaged the audience with her impeccable skill for comedic timing, and her charismatic presence on stage throughout. When she graced the stairway in her white sequin dress and fox fur for the finale, I felt a sense of pride for her; I was pleasantly surprised by her remarkable performance.
The highlight of the night was Ricky Rojas, Samuel Morgan-Grahame and Sandy Grigelis’s inspired interpretations of Pablo, Joey and TJ; the “comical gang”. I have never laughed so much at a musical than during their rendition of ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ which had me welling up both during and after the performance. Their ability to make a fool of themselves with cringe-worthy characteristics provided comedy that enticed the audience and enabled the actors to steal the limelight whenever they were present.
All-in-all, Sister Act was an inspiring production and exceeded any musical I have seen at the New Theatre in recent years. A flamboyant dose of feel-good theatre, I thoroughly recommend booking tickets early to avoid disappointment.
Book your tickets here to see the dazzling production of Sister Act this summer! The show is also venturing to Bristol Hippodrome and Palace Theatre Manchester for those based in the South West and Northern regions of England so make sure you buy your tickets soon!
Here is a sneak peak if you want something to whet your appetite....