REVIEW: Sister Act, Sunderland Empire, Until September 10

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

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Divine musical comedy Sister Act has been given a dramatic overhaul by Craig Revel Horwood.

The Strictly Come Dancing judge is at the helm of the show’s latest tour as director and choreographer.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

The musical is based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Singer Deloris Van Cartier (Alexandra Burke) witnesses her club boss boyfriend Curtis (Aaron Lee Lambert) murder one his goons and is forced to hide from him at a convent.

Mother Superior (Karen Mann) isn’t best pleased with the idea, worrying that Deloris will bring danger to the nuns.

But when the sisters take to Deloris, believing she is a fellow nun, and the singer gives their choir a funky makeover, Mother Superior is worried she’ll lead them astray from their true purpose.

Alexandra Burke in Sister Act.

Alexandra Burke in Sister Act.

The show is big and bold, but I have to admit I’ve preferred previous productions I’ve seen of it.

It’s changed a lot. Some of it is great, but some of it was a little odd.

Rather than a band hidden behind the scenery, actor-musicians were used in this production. Whether they were nuns, cops, or homeless people, they’d grab an instrument to provide the soundtrack. At times, this really worked, particularly during the nuns’ performances, but at others it seemed a bit too much.

Burke really suited the sassy role, and her voice was perfect for disco tracks like Take Me To Heaven and Fabulous, Baby!

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

The character is very in-your-face and Burke portrayed this really well. I did think she was a little mean to Eddie (Jon Robyns) though. He had a crush on her at school and is now the cop trying to save her from her murderous mob boyfriend, and she called him ‘Sweaty Eddie’ a few too many times – it just seemed cruel.

The nuns were the absolute stars of the show.

Singing together off-key – but with absolute conviction – they had the audience in stitches. They were hilarious when they were terrible and just as funny once Deloris had taught them how to sing. Tapping tambourines and shaking their booties, they made me crease every time they performed.

Choreography in the glitzy show is great most of the time. It’s fitting to the era and really fun, but there were parts of it that made me a little unsettled.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

The moves provided for Curtis and his goons was really over-sexualised and a bit offensive. Parts of their performances during numbers When I Find My Baby and Lady in the Long Black Dress made me feel very uncomfortable.

The set has been stripped back quite a bit too. I remember it being a lot more elaborate last time I saw the show.

There were parts of the show that I really loved and overall I did enjoy it, but it just seemed the creatives had tried to make it a little darker than usual.

Yes, Curtis is a bad guy, but this is still meant to be a fun, family show.

Sister Act runs until Saturday, September 10. Click here to book tickets.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.

Sister Act is at the Sunderland Empire.