Sister Act, Theatre Review. Empire Theatre, Liverpool.
Cast: Denise Black, Michael Starke, Cynthia Erivo, Julie Atherton, Edward Baruwa, Gavin Cornwall, Gavin Alex, Jacqueline Clarke, Tyrone Huntley, Laurie Scarth, Daniel Stockton.
It is possibly the hardest job in the acting profession, to out act and outperform Whoopi Goldberg in possibly her most iconic role of Deloris Van Cartier from the hit 1992 movie Sister Act. In Cynthia Erivo, that was achieved with room to spare as she took on the role for the stage version of the film at the Liverpool Empire.
With a cast that wouldn’t have looked out of place in any show that the Empire put on, Cynthia Erivo simply shone as the wayward club singer who finds a higher purpose in life and alongside the effervescent Michael Starke, the brilliant Denise Black, the incredible Julie Atherton and the rest of the actors who took part in this extravaganza of feel good music and insane dance moves should be congratulated for their performances and dedication to bringing this show to Liverpool.
Playing to a packed out and cheerful audience, the cast donned their habits and vestments and invited the crowd back to the disco era of the 1970’s, a highly poignant moment with the recent and sad loss of both Donna Summer, who was name checked several times during the performance and Robin Gibb. The music that the crowd heard on the night was on the money at all times, and hugely enjoyed by all who had gone along on the night to see the play. With songs such as It’s Good To Be A Nun and the superb I Could Be That Guy, sang with incredible passion and verve by Edward Baruwa being among the highlights of the first half of the show, there was barely time for the audience to catch breath between each well captured song and brilliant wise crack by Cynthia Erivo.
The dynamic between the Mother Superior, played brilliantly by Denise Black and the wise-cracking lounge singer was top notch, an amazing bit of casting that could have gone very wrong if these two outstanding women had not been given the parts. One of the most incredible performances on the night came from Julie Atherton as the Sister Mary Robert, whose transformation from mousy novice to women prepared to put her on life on the line for her friend was nothing short of excellent.
Sister Act is not just a divine musical comedy, everything about it screams heavenly.
Ian D. Hall