I recently went with friends to London to see the stage show of Sister Act at the London Palladium. The Palladium is one of a group within Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. We were in the Royal Circle which afforded a very good view of the stage and the orchestra pit.
I am not sure what I expected, having seen the film several times and not having read any reviews of the stage show. From the moment the curtain went up it was obvious we were in for a treat. The costumes were fantastic and the set was incredible. The scene changes were constant and seamless as parts of the stage rotated and retracted into the floor. I dread to think of what the scenary must have cost to build.
The cast was excellent. Sheila Hancock was inspirational as the Mother Superior. As you would expect from someone with her experience her characterisation was flawless but rather less dry than the Mother Superior in the film of the same name. Ian Lavender (Private Pike in Dad’s Army) played Monsignor Howard superbly and Patina Miller was an energetic and delightful Deloris van Cartier (Sister Mary Clarence). There was the expected full panoply of nuns, with many of them based on the nuns in the movie. There was the fat jolly nun, the elderly alcoholic nun and the naive novice.
One very unexpected feature towards the end was the appearance of “the Pope” when the nuns perform for him. The conductor in the orchestra pit ducked down for a while, donned a white gown and skull cap and rose up on a platform to play the part of the Pope. Just as quickly he removed his costume and resumed his conducting duties. A nice touch!
The theatre is large and beautifully decorated but the seating is cramped and for someone with long legs like me, I was suffering before the interval. Theatres really do need to update their seating for the 21st Century. Despite a full audience the bars were not too crowded. It is one of my regular complaints about London theatres that they never seem to have enough bar space or staff serving but the Palladium was better than most and the wait for drinks was reasonable.
All in all I can thoroughly recommend this show. If you enjoyed the film you will certainly enjoy the stage show. In every respect it is superb!
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