Reviewed by Sophie Ross
Monday 20th March 2017
Reviewer rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Sister Act is back and better than ever. Directed by Craig Revel Horwood, it tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub singer played by XFactor winner Alexandra Burke. When becoming a witness to a murder committed by her lover, she is forced to hide away in a convent for her safety. Faced with the challenges of adjusting to a new life, she is confronted with the reality what it means to have true friends. It’s the story of positivity, love and turning a bad situation into something wonderful.

SISTER ACT. Alexandra Burke as 'Deloris Van Cartier'. Photo by Tristram Kenton

Having made her theatre debut in the Bodyguard in 2014, Alexandra is back and once again taking centre stage. Her comedic timing is on point and her vocal is both effortless and beautiful. It’s great to see her take on another lead role and she does so with such power, sass and ease. Supported by a wonderful cast of actor-musicians, she is joined by Karan Mann as Sister Superior who brings both charm and wit to the role and makes a great onstage paring with Alex. The two bounce of each other’s energy as Deloris attempts to loosen up the stubbornness in the Sisters persona.

Joe Vetch plays police officer Eddie with charm and goofiness. He’s the guy that you root for from start to end and it’s great to see his character develop as the storyline unfolds. One of the stand out performances for us was from Susannah Van Den Berg in the role of Sister Mary Patrick. Her humour, warmth and personality shines through as she plays the over enthusiastic nun who see’s the best out of every situation.

SISTER ACT. Company. Photo by Tristram Kenton.jpg

It’s a show that will leave you feeling good and wishing you were apart of their convent. The score is catchy and has that soulful gospel vibe that you can’t help but smile at. Although the set is very minimalistic, it creates a realistic setting of what you would expect from the inside of the church.

Sister Act runs at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until March 25th before continuing around the UK. Tickets and details can be found here: http://sisteractuktour.co.uk/

SISTER ACT. Alexanda Burke as 'Deloris Van Cartier' and Ensemble. Photo by Tristram Kenton.jpg

Hairspray is back and touring around the UK. Tackling some serious issues, sporting some rather big hair and displaying some fun loving dance moves, Hairspray is as vibrant as ever.

Having not being able to see the production when it was at the Leicester Curve back in 2014, I was intrigued to see the adaption on its new UK tour. With big songs that make you want to get up and join the party to important messages about race, bullying and equality.

With this touring cast, the talent from the fantastic leads and equally incredible ensemble putting in their absolute all into the performance although the show did feel like it was missing a bit of it’s original sparkle.

Leading lady Freya Edwards put on a stellar performance as ambitious teen Tracey Turnblad with pitch perfect vocals and a groove of her own. She was literally dancing to her own beat with a huge smile on her face the whole time.

Drew McOnie did a fantastic job at choreographing Hairspray for the tour and hits the nail on the head with sixties dance moves and pushing the cast to their full potential. His clever work allows the show to remain its high energy and get in the groove of the swinging vibes of Baltimore.

Brenda Edwards also gave a show stopping performance as Motormouth Maybelle and despite currently being under treatment for breast cancer, she give it her all which can only inspire us all. Her soulful voice and sassy style allowed her to shine bright and make a great addition to this strong cast.

Claire Sweeney as Velma Von Tussle also succeeded in bringing the house down with endless laughter and joy. Making her way onto the floor and into the lap of one audience member which was certainly a first but very entertaining to say the least.

It’s a shame that the show was slightly let down by the set design. It was very basic and one part caused a gigantic bang every time it was lowered onto the stage, which was a bit distracting. What I did like was the fact that the Orchestra was featured on stage for the duration of the show. That factor is becoming a more common thing and it’s nice to see the band shine as much as the cast.

Overall it was a fun evening and was great to finally get to see this production on stage. After it’s run at the Bromley Churchill the tour takes a shore break at the end of the month returning in 2017 with new tour dates. Hopefully the time off will allow this show to re-group and come back with a bang dazzling the rest of the company.

As the saying goes, you can’t stop the beat and Hairspray on tour is certainly doing the opposite of that.

More details of the tour can be found here www.hairsprayuktour.com