The omens were not good; the traffic getting into Leeds was horrendous, it was a cold and windy night and, to top it all, Sister Act was 20 minutes late starting at the Leeds Grand Theatre — probably not the best start to the opening night.
Apparently there had been issues in the cast as well. Lesley Joseph could not play Mother Superior that evening and her understudy, Lori Haley Fox, would be standing in. Thankfully Fox was brilliant and very much at ease in the role.
True to the original
The story is set in the late 1970s, in Philadelphia, and the costumes, wigs and platform boots evoke that era.
If you have seen the movie, this stage show follows the same plot. Disco diva and long-time Donna Summer fan, Deloris Van Cartier’s (Sandra Marvin) life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses her gangster boyfriend, Curtis Jackson (Jeremy Secomb), shoot a man. Until the case comes to court Deloris has to go into hiding somewhere that Jackson will never find her – a Catholic convent!
At the convent the nuns are tentatively persuaded to find their true singing voices as Deloris shows them the power of her own voice. They each discover their own voices with a joyful touch, as each nun takes a turn with a solo.
With the convent running out of money and in danger of being sold, Deloris turns the choir into a class act who end up raising money to save the convent.
A captivating evening
The musical serves up a humorous and fun night with plenty of scenes that will have you almost falling off your seat with laughter.
A special mention goes to Clive Rowe, who plays the Philadelphia policeman, Eddie Souther, who has a secret crush on Deloris. His performance of the song, I Could Be That Guy comes complete with a quick costume change and the scene easily becomes one of the highlights of the show.
The nuns were magnificent, too, and Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert brought an innocent yet humorous touch to the evening.
By the end of the night the sold-out audience were up on their feet for a rousing version of Raise Your Voice.
All the logistical obstacles faced earlier in the evening were soon forgotten watching this entertaining, humorous and captivating show. Sisters are definitely doing it for themselves – just pray that you get a ticket. A great pick me up indeed.
If you miss Sister Act in Leeds you have another chance to become part of the congregation when the musical transfers to Sheffield in April.
Sister Act plays at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday 1 April and opens at the Sheffield Lyceum on Tuesday 4 April.