RATHER like the stage musical versions of Shrek and The Full Monty, Sister Act is a stage version of a film full of famous, recognisable, memorable songs, but a stage version in which all the music is completely original, and consequently completely new to an audience.
Fortunately Sister Act has a book and script by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, who met and married while they were part of the writing team for US hit TV comedy Cheers, and music by Alan Menken, multi-Oscar-winning composer of so many Disney films and shows, including Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, as well as muscials such as Little Shop of Horror, with lyrics by Glenn Slater, who has written with Menken before, and has most recently written School of Rock with Andrew Lloyd Webber. This pedigree is sufficient to provide catchy, bouncy songs, with a Disney feel, and even a few recognisable melodies from Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, set to soul, funk and disco beats. There are also great ballads, and a great plot, almost too predictable, but in a good, reliable way, rather like an Ealing comedy, or an MGM musical of years gone by.
Bath Light Operatic Group have some excellent singers and actors, and particularly for this show, a great female chorus, who have to sing badly as nuns to start with before being trained by show singer Doloris Van Cartier. In the main role of Van Cartier, Aimi Kuhlke has a wonderfully soulful voice, which reminded me of disco divas of the early 1970s, such as Tina Charles, Anita Ward, and of course early Donna Summer, and this voice is used to great effect right from her opening number, auditioning in a club, to the grand finale, with the full cast all on stage. Aimi also has a strong and believable American accent, which kept her firmly in character, and her whole portrayal was effective and accurate.
The rest of the nuns were not just a good chorus, they all had their individual traits and characters, most impressively the Irish Mother Superior, played by Jaquie Buck, and the Sisters Mary Robert, Patrick and Lazurus, played respectively by Anna Robertson, Kimberley Ray, and Lorraine Matson, all showing their singing and acting ability off whenever the opportunity arose. As Monsignor O’Hara, Raymond G Morrison brought some great comic timing to his Irish Cardinal, and Tristan Carter, as sweaty Eddie, had one of the best voices in the show, with his showstopper I Could Be That Guy drawing plenty of well-earned applause in Act One.
The show was costumed well, with the nuns even looking like a pack of cards at the end of Act One, with great hearts on their fronts, and good 1970s outfits for gangsters and police alike, the band was as good as ever, with some lovely solo saxophone and guitar work, and as always, BLOG provide a good, solid evening’s entertainment. It’s on until the end of the week.