REVIEW: Sister Act (2023) at Theatre Royal, Nottingham

PC: Manuel Harlan

A light-hearted tonic of a musical sent from above!

press tickets for review

Sisters, it’s time to head on down to join the congregation at Theatre Royal, Nottingham as Sister Act has opened up and… trust me, it’s fabulous baby!

Be a part of one terrific sister act and follow the story of Deloris van Cartier as she ditches killer platform heels for a nun habit and wimple whilst learning that stardom doesn’t mean a thing without your sisterhood by your side who are willing to stand with you through thick and thin.

The 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg is the basing for the reimagined musical and the plot runs true to the production. Nightclub performer Deloris van Cartier (Sandra Marvin) sees her married lover Curtis Jackson (Jeremy Secomb) shoot a man, and to protect her, Eddie (Clive Rowe) places her in the convent for protection with Mother Superior (Lesley Joseph), Sister Mary Robert (Lizzie Bea) and the rest of the nuns. Simultaneously, the convent has its own difficulties as finances are plummeting, the congregation is at best a small gathering and the choir… well… “there are no words!” Indeed Mother Superior, indeed!

This diverse show brings together everything that is needed for a heavenly night out. Sass, confidence, love, camp and disco vibes – sister act has everything to make you smile, laugh and feel nothing but positivity from the moment you walk in. Whether it’s the glitz and glamour, the humour, or the choreography, you’ll be smiling from ear-to-ear.

sister act logo and programme

Lesley Joseph, known best for her role in Birds of a Feather took the role of the stern Mother Superior and I found her nothing but a delight to watch. No surprises that she stood out with her dry comedy and expertly delivered wit. I really enjoyed her solo ‘I Haven’t Got a Prayer’ and her reactive expressions. Despite being the poster lady for archaism, I found her charming, loveable and one of my favourites.

Deloris van Cartier is nailed by Sandra Marvin who has stepped into the role after being the understudy for Beverley Knight. She showed a deep compassion for the character and truly understood the assignment with the sass that she brought. Her vocals were demonstrated beautifully in “Fabulous, Baby” and “Raise Your Voice”. I loved watching her slowly develop from mistress with a dream of being a star into a fully involved member of the community.

I especially enjoyed the bond between Deloris and Sister Mary Robert (Lizzie Bea). Stepping into Keala Settle’s shoes has to have brought pressure, but it seemed no task for Hairspray sensation Bea who really stood out and brought the nunnery down with her power! She delivered her role with passion, charm and gave out likability in the heap loads. Watching her character blosom was such a delight. In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed her outstanding performance of “The Life I Never Led”.

The cast continues strong with Clive Rowe as loveable Steady Eddie who brings a heartwarming cuteness to the role. I always loved Clive in Tracy Beaker, so was delighted to see him thrive in such a delightful role. He is an absolute pleasure to watch and lights up the stage with his warmth. I was in awe of his performance of ‘I Could Be That Guy‘ and that costume change… wow! Now, here’s where Sister Act is more of a heartwarming face-value kinda thing rather than a deep and profound play. There is little depth to the gangsters which he’s tracking down, in fact, they are so comic driven that they are almost cartoon-like… and I loved it!

The hilarious gangsters are portrayed by Bradley Judge, Damian Buhagiar, and Tom Hopcroft. They really bring their game to “Lady in the Long Black Dress” with some killer seventies moves, clubbing energy and cheesy choreography. You never sense a feeling of danger around Curtis Jackson and his trio of gangsters, the only thing you feel they might do is murder a song or kill a dance, but they are an absolute joy to watch.

Set wise, expect glitz and glamour and sparkling lights. There is a church mosaic window to resemble the nunnery and basic additions to convert the stage to a police station, bar, or a bedroom. The set feels relatively basic which allowed the performances and choreography to take centre stage. It moves with a good pace though leaves little for emotional attachment. It is more about having a good time and really bringing the razzle dazzle – especially in the finale with those glitzy habits, prison attire, and suits!

Sister Act is an uplifting and fun night out which will have you leaving the theatre bursting with joy and belting the hits such as “Fabulous, Baby!” and “Raise Your Voice!”. Sister Act will perform until Saturday 13 May 2023 and then return to Nottingham again in September 2024.

Theatre Royal, Nottingham 8 MAY – 13 MAY
Running time: 2h 30(including a 20 min interval)
Age Recommendation: 10+, contains moderately strong language, gunshots and depictions of smoking onstage.

Produced by Whoopi Goldberg & Jamie Wilson
Composed by Alan Menken
Directed by Bill Buckhurst
Choreographed by Alistair David
Set and Costume Designed by Morgan Large
Lighting Designed by Tim Mitchell
Sound Designed by Tom Marshall
Musical Directed by Neil MacDonald


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