Sister Act (musical)
Poster for the London production
|Book||Bill and Cheri Steinkellner|
|Basis||1992 film Sister Act|
2009 West End
2011 UK Tour
2012 US Tour
2013 The Hague
2014 Japan Tour
2014 US Tour
2015 São Paulo
Sister Act is a musical written by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and music by Alan Menken. It is based on the hit 1992 film comedy of the same name. The 2009 West End production was produced by Stage Entertainment, Whoopi Goldberg, and Michael Reno for Sis Acts LLC. Goldberg is also a producer of the 2011 Broadway adaptation.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Productions
- 3 Major casts
- 4 West End Song list
- 5 Broadway Song list
- 6 Orchestration
- 7 Critical response
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 Sister Act Nun Run
- 10 References
- 11 External links
- Act 1
In Philadelphia, Mother Superior declares that the convent is in need (Prologue) before Deloris Van Cartier, crowned 'Lady Fabulous' of 1978, is seen performing in the night club run by her gangster boyfriend Curtis Shank ("Take Me to Heaven"). Deloris is overjoyed as she believes her boyfriend is going to introduce her to a record producer on that day (her birthday), although she soon learns that this is not to be. Hurt and frustrated, Deloris goes to her backup singers KT and LaRosa, about her dreams of stardom and fame ("Fabulous, Baby!"). She decides to break up with Shank and head out of Philadelphia to go fulfill her dreams on her own. However she gets to Shank just in time to see him and his crew made up of nephew TJ, Bones, and Dinero, shoot someone who they believe has "squealed" about them to the cops. Horrified, Deloris runs away and Shank orders his men to get her and bring her back. Deloris runs to a police station and tells the desk chief, Eddie, about what happened. The two recognize each other as old friends from school with Deloris calling him "Sweaty Eddie". Eddie decides that Deloris needs to go into the witness protection program and sends her to the place he believes Shank will never find her - a convent called The Holy Order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith.
Deloris is disappointed by this idea as she learns from the Mother Superior that contact with the outside world is limited, and that she cannot smoke, drink, or wear any of her less than appropriate clothing ("Here Within These Walls"). Deloris joins the other nuns for dinner and after several comedic interactions with the overly perky Sister Mary Patrick, Deloris discovers how the other nuns got their "calling" from the Lord ("How I Got the Calling"). They then ask Deloris to share her story with them and she lies.
Meanwhile back in his nightclub, Shank is frustrated that he cannot find Deloris anywhere. He tells his goons how he will not stop until he finds and kills Deloris ("When I Find My Baby"). Back at the convent Deloris is bored by the simple life of the nuns and decides to hit the town. She goes across the street to a slinky bar, and is followed by Sister Mary Lazarus, Sister Mary Patrick, and Sister Mary Robert. When the three nuns arrive they are shocked to find Sister Mary Clarence (Deloris' undercover name) drinking and dancing, however they assume that she is attempting to save the lost souls in the bar. Deloris goes along with this idea and gets the whole bar dancing ("Do the Sacred Mass"). However, the joyful mood is quickly destroyed when Deloris recognises Shank's boys entering the bar. She tries to hide herself as they ask people in the bar if they've seen Deloris. Suddenly there is a fight in the bar which has to be broken up by Eddie and the Mother Superior, who orders the nuns to go back to the convent. She then confronts Deloris telling her that she must conform to the life of the nuns. Eddie agrees, telling Deloris that Shank has upped the price on her head, so she needs to be careful. Deloris storms back to the convent after being informed that she has to wake up at 5 a.m. and join the choir. Eddie, now alone with only the drunks and homeless on the street, sings of his desire to be cool, to let go, and impress Deloris ("I Could Be That Guy").
The following morning Deloris attends the choir practice and loudly admits that the choir sounds terrible. This prompts the Mother Superior to let Deloris lead the choir. Deloris does so and teaches the nuns how to sing in key and on time. She also manages to break the quiet and timid Sister Mary Robert out of her shell ("Raise Your Voice"). That Sunday, the choir perform an up-tempo hymn ("Take Me to Heaven (Reprise)") which to the struggling church's surprise brings in more people and more donations. The Mother Superior, however, is horrified how the simple traditional choir she knew has changed and become modern. The news of the choir soon spreads with photographers and news reporters coming in to get the story behind the latest sensation - this wonderful nontraditional choir.
- Act 2
Over the coming weeks, the choir has become incredibly successful and the money from donations has paid for the church to be remodelled and fixed ("Sunday Morning Fever"). However, the newfound fame comes at a price. Shank and his goons spot Deloris with the choir in the newspaper. Shank orders his boys to get into the convent and bring Deloris to him. TJ, Bones, and Dinero discuss how they will do this ("Lady in the Long Black Dress"). Meanwhile, back at the church, Monsignor Howard has some terrific news: the choir has been asked to perform a special concert in front of the Pope. The choir are overjoyed but nervous and that night they ask Deloris to pray for their success ("Bless Our Show"). Deloris is also looking forward to the occasion, although the Mother Superior calls her over and tells her that Shank's men have just come looking for her and she must leave quickly. The other nuns overhear and Deloris is forced to tell them the truth about who she really is and that she cannot perform with them. Deloris quickly runs off to get her things followed by Sister Mary Robert while the other nuns disappointedly go back to their rooms. Alone in Deloris' room, the Mother Superior expresses joy that life can go back to being as it was. However it is evident that she, along with the other nuns, have developed a love for Sister Mary Clarence and her modern if somewhat unorthodox ways ("Here Within These Walls (Reprise)").
As Deloris prepares to leave Sister Mary Robert begs to come with her, claiming that she has been inspired to become a stronger person and go after the things she wants ("The Life I Never Led"). Deloris tells her that she doesn't need her to do that, and that she can do it all herself if she really wants to. Deloris runs from the convent and stays at Eddie's house for the night. While there she initially is overjoyed that the following day she will testify against Shank and his boys and then go back to pursuing the career she's dreamed of ("Fabulous, Baby! (Reprise)"). Guilty for abandoning her sisters when they needed her, she reflects on her life and realises that the choices she is making will leave her with nothing but fame and money, and when the lights go out she will be alone. She decides to return to the convent and sing with her sisters ("Sister Act").
Meanwhile, Shank thinks up a new way to get into the convent ("When I Find My Baby (Reprise)"). Dressed as nuns, Shank and his boys sneak into the convent; they find and chase Deloris. Sister Mary Patrick, who has seen what has happened, informs the other nuns who insist they must go and help Deloris. The Mother Superior, however, is adamant that they stay and call the police, prompting an outburst from Sister Mary Robert who tells her that she won't be quiet and take orders blindly anymore; that she is going to help Deloris ("The Life I Never Led (Reprise)"). The other nuns agree and all of them go running through the convent looking for Deloris. It all comes down to a final confrontation in which Shank, armed and dangerous, tells Deloris to get on her knees and beg for her life. However, all the sisters and nuns stand in front of her telling Shank that they will have to go through them first ("Sister Act (Reprise)"). Shank is about to start firing at the nuns when Eddie comes in and fights Shank off. He arrests Shank and his boys and then asks Deloris out on a date which she accepts. Mother Superior and Deloris come to a truce and accept that perhaps they are not so different after all. The show ends with all the nuns and eventually the entire cast performing for the Pope ("Spread the Love Around").
On Christmas Eve, Deloris Van Cartier is performing for her gangster boyfriend Curtis Jackson in the night club he owns ("Take Me to Heaven"). Deloris is overjoyed as she believes her boyfriend is going to introduce her to a record producer on that day, although she soon learns that this is not to be. Jackson tells her he cannot join her for Christmas Day, but gives her a coat, which she discovers belonged to his wife. Hurt and frustrated, Deloris goes to her backup singers Michelle and Tina, about her dreams of stardom and fame ("Fabulous, Baby!"). She decides to break up with Jackson and head out of Philadelphia to go fulfill her dreams on her own. However she gets to Jackson just in time to see him and his crew - made up of nephew TJ, Joey, and Pablo - shoot someone who they believe has "squealed" about them to the cops.
Horrified, Deloris runs away and Jackson orders his men to get her and bring her back. Deloris runs to a police station and tells the desk chief, Eddie, about what happened. The two recognize each other as old friends from school with Deloris calling him "Sweaty Eddie". Eddie decides that Deloris needs to go into the witness protection program and sends her to the place he believes Jackson will never find her - a convent.
Deloris is disappointed by this idea as she learns from the Mother Superior that contact with the outside world is limited, and that she cannot smoke, drink, or wear any of her less than appropriate clothing ("Here Within These Walls"). Deloris joins the other nuns for dinner, is introduced as Sister Mary Clarence, and after several comedic interactions with the overly perky Sister Mary Patrick, Deloris discovers just how much is limited when she is a nun ("It’s Good to Be A Nun"). Deloris asks them about what they’re missing, and Mother Superior makes Deloris go on a fast.
Meanwhile back in his nightclub, Jackson is frustrated that he cannot find Deloris anywhere. He tells Joey, TJ, and Pablo how he will not stop until he finds and kills Deloris ("When I Find My Baby"). Back at the convent Deloris is hungry from the fast. She goes across the street to a slinky bar, and is followed by Sister Mary Patrick and Sister Mary Robert, a shy and quiet nun. When the two nuns arrive they see how fun things can be outside of the convent. However, Deloris recognizes Joey, TJ, and Pablo entering the bar. Suddenly there is a fight in the bar, giving Deloris, Sister Mary Patrick, and Sister Mary Robert a chance to escape.
Eddie and Mother Superior meet them back at the convent. Mother Superior confronts Deloris, telling her that she must conform to the life of the nuns. Eddie agrees, telling Deloris that Jackson has upped the price on her head, so she needs to be careful. Deloris storms back to the convent after being informed that she has to wake up at 5 a.m. and join the choir. Eddie, now alone with only the drunks and homeless on the street, sings of his desire to be cool, to let go, and impress Deloris ("I Could Be That Guy").
The following morning Deloris attends the choir practice and realizes how bad it is. Deloris offers to try teaching them, taking over from Sister Mary Lazarus, an older nun. Deloris teaches the nuns how to sing in key and on time. She also manages to break the quiet and timid Sister Mary Robert out of her shell ("Raise Your Voice"). That Sunday, the choir perform an up-tempo hymn ("Take Me to Heaven (Reprise)") which to the struggling church's surprise brings in more people and more donations. Mother Superior, however, is horrified how the simple traditional choir she knew has changed and become modern.
- Act 2
Mother Superior wants to get rid of Deloris, but Monsignor O’Hara tells her that the men who were planning to buy the church love the choir, and have given their money to improve and keep the church. Over the coming weeks, the choir has become incredibly successful and the money from donations has paid for the church to be remodeled and fixed ("Sunday Morning Fever"). Monsignor O’Hara has some terrific news: the choir has been asked to perform a special concert in front of the Pope. However, the newfound fame comes at a price.
Jackson and his goons spot Deloris with the choir on the television. Jackson orders his boys to get into the convent and bring Deloris to him. TJ, Joey, and Pablo discuss how they will do this ("Lady in the Long Black Dress"). Meanwhile, Mother Superior prays to God and asks why He has given her the challenge that is Deloris (“Haven’t Got A Prayer"). But, she soon gets a call from Eddie. Deloris is approached by the Nuns before they go to sleep, asking her to lead them praying for their show for the Pope, which is the following day (“Bless the Show”). Mother Superior arrives and tells Deloris that the court date for Jackson has moved up to the next day and she must leave immediately. The other nuns overhear and Deloris is forced to tell them the truth about who she really is and that she cannot perform with them. Deloris quickly runs off to get her things followed by Sister Mary Robert while the other nuns disappointedly go back to their rooms.
As Deloris prepares to leave, Sister Mary Robert begs to come with her, claiming that she has been inspired to become a stronger person and go after the things she wants ("The Life I Never Led"). Deloris tells her that she doesn't need her to do that, and that she can do it all herself if she really wants to. Deloris runs from the convent and stays at Eddie's house for the night. While there she initially is overjoyed that the following day she will testify against Jackson and his boys and then go back to pursuing the career she's dreamed of ("Fabulous, Baby! (Reprise)"). But guilty for abandoning her sisters when they needed her, she reflects on her life and realizes that the choices she is making will leave her with nothing but fame and money, and when the lights go out she will be alone. She decides to return to the convent and sing with her sisters ("Sister Act").
Meanwhile, Jackson thinks up a new way to get into the convent ("When I Find My Baby (Reprise)"). Dressed as nuns, Jackson, Joey, TJ, and Pablo sneak into the convent; they find and chase Deloris. The Nuns see that, and they all prepare to protect Deloris. Mother Superior, however, is adamant that they stay and call the police, prompting an outburst from Sister Mary Robert who tells her that she won't be quiet and take orders blindly anymore; that she is going to help Deloris ("The Life I Never Led (Reprise)"). The other nuns agree and all of them go running through the convent looking for Deloris.
It all comes down to a final confrontation in which Jackson, armed and dangerous, tells Deloris to get on her knees and beg for her life. However, all the sisters and nuns stand in front of her telling Jackson that they will have to go through them first ("Sister Act (Reprise)"). Jackson is about to start firing at the nuns when Eddie comes in and fights Jackson off. He arrests Jackson and his boys and Deloris and he share a kiss. Mother Superior and Deloris come to a truce and accept that perhaps they are not so different after all. The show ends with all the nuns and eventually the entire cast performing for the Pope ("Spread the Love Around"). The cast then perform “Raise Your Voice (Reprise)" as a curtain call.
Original productions, Pasadena and Atlanta
The musical premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California on October 24, 2006 and closed on December 23, 2006. It broke records, grossing $1,085,929 to become the highest grossing show ever at the venue. Patina Miller, who would later go on to play the role of Deloris when the show opened in London, was in the ensemble and understudied Deloris.
The musical was directed by Peter Schneider, developed by Schneider and Michael Reno, choreographed by Marguerite Derricks, with set design by David Potts, costumes by Garry Lennon, lighting by Donald Holder, and sound by Carl Casella and Dominick Sack.
Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the musical has "Broadway blockbuster written all over it," and Laurence Vittes described it as "hugely entertaining... likely to become a classic" in The Hollywood Reporter. Jonas Schwartz (Theatremania.com) was less enthusiastic, saying it "suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. When focused within the confines of the church and the convent, the show is heavenly, singing loudly and confidently. However, the scenes that take place in the outside world are painted with unnecessarily broad and occasionally offensive strokes. Moreover, Dawnn Lewis lacks punch in the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier... [she] is too whiny to fully command the stage."
The production then moved to the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, where it ran from January 17 to February 25, 2007. The cast included Dawnn Lewis as Deloris, Elizabeth Ward Land as the Mother Superior, and Harrison White as Curtis.
Curt Holman, writing for the Atlanta-based website CreativeLoafing.com, described it as "a whiplash-inducing experience of genuinely clever and exuberant flourishes alternating with cringe-inducing embarrassments.... The weakest parts of Sister Act tend to be the most faithful moments to the film, which makes you wonder what Menken, Slater and the production's delightful design team could have done with original material."
Original London production
Sister Act opened in the West End at the London Palladium on June 2, 2009, following previews from May 7. The production was directed by Peter Schneider and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast, with set design by Klara Zieglerova, costumes by Lez Brotherston and lighting by Natasha Katz. Following a year-long search, 24-year-old actress Patina Miller was cast as Deloris, alongside Sheila Hancock as the Mother Superior, Ian Lavender as Monsignor Howard, Chris Jarman as Shank, Ako Mitchell as Eddie, Katie Rowley Jones as Sister Mary Robert, Claire Greenway as Sister Mary Patrick and Julia Sutton (later replaced by Jacqueline Clarke) as Sister Mary Lazarus. It was announced on April 29, 2010 that pop singer Simon Webbe of Blue fame would join the cast as Shank on May 31, 2010 and that the production would close on January 1, 2011. It was then announced the show would close on October 30, 2010 to make way for Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical production of The Wizard of Oz. Chris Jarman took a planned break from the show from May, during which time Webbe played the role of Shank, and Sheila Hancock left on July 31 due to other contractual commitments. All cast members (with the exception of Simon Webbe, who left on August 28) stayed in the show until it closed. Whoopi Goldberg joined the cast as the Mother Superior for a limited engagement that was supposed to last from August 10–31, 2010, but she left the cast on August 27 due to her mother suffering a stroke. Goldberg was then succeeded by Sally Dexter. However, Goldberg returned to the cast for five performances on October 22, 23 and 25. The show closed as announced on October 30, 2010.
Original Broadway production
A newly revised adaptation of the show opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 20, 2011, after previews beginning March 24, 2011. Jerry Zaks was the new director with Douglas Carter Beane rewriting the book. (Zaks had previously worked with composer Alan Menken on the 2003 Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors.) Patina Miller, who originated the role of Deloris in the West End production, reprised the role on Broadway, making her Broadway debut. The original cast featured Victoria Clark (Mother Superior), Fred Applegate (Monsignor), Sarah Bolt (Sister Mary Patrick), Chester Gregory (Eddie), Kingsley Leggs (Curtis), Marla Mindelle (Sister Mary Robert) and Audrie Neenan (Sister Mary Lazarus). On October 12, 2011, Clark left the production for unknown reasons. Her understudy, Jennifer Allen played the role after her departure. Carolee Carmello took over the role of the Mother Superior on November 19, 2011. Raven-Symoné replaced Miller as Deloris on March 27, 2012. The show received multiple Tony Award nominations for the 2011 season, including for Best Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Miller) and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Clark). The production closed on August 26, 2012 after 28 previews and 561 performances.
The German adaption of the show opened at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg on December 2, 2010. The role of Deloris Van Cartier is performed by Zodwa Selele (first cast) and Patricia Meeden (alternate first cast). Daniela Ziegler plays the role of Mother Superior, Tetje Mierendorf the role of Bones. Sister Mary Robert is being played by Ina Trabesinger, Sister Mary Patrick by Martin de Jager and Sister Mary Lazarus by Sonya Martin. In December 2012 Sister Act was transferred from Hamburg to Stuttgart, where it ran until September 25, 2013. On December 3, 2013 Sister Act opened in Oberhausen.
An Italian production opened in late 2011 at the National Theatre in Milan. It will run through the Theatrical Season (2011-2012). The cast includes Loretta Grace (Deloris), Dora Romano (Mother Superior), Timothy Martin (Eddie), Felice Casciano (Curtis Jackson), Laura Galigani (Sister Mary Robert), Simonetta Cartia (Sister Mary Lazarus), Giulia Marangoni (Sister Mary Patrick), Fabrizio Checcacci (Joey), Massimiliano Pironti (Tj), Giacomo Buccheri (Deniro).
A Japanese production was released in 2014 with Jun Sena and Kumiko Mori (Deloris), Ran Ohtori (Mother Superior), Kazutaka Ishii (Eddie), Kenya Osumi and Mitsuo Yoshihara (Curtis Jackson), Rafurua Miyazawa Emma (Sister Mary Robert), Hitomi Harukaze (Sister Mary Lazarus), Rinko Urashima (Sister Mary Patrick), Kunio Murai (Monsignor O'Hara), KENTARO (Joey), Masaaki Fujioka (TJ) and Kohei Ueguchi (Pablo)
In The Netherlands, Sister Act ran from March 2, 2013 to August 10, 2014 at the AFAS Circustheater in The Hague. The role of Deloris van Cartier was performed by Carolina Dijkhuizen, with Frans Mulder as Monsignor O’Hara and Simone Kleinsma as Mother Superior.
The French production of the show opened on September 20, 2012 at Paris' Theatre Mogador and closed on June 30, 2013 after more than 200 performances and 300.000 spectators.
A Spanish production opened on October 23, 2014 at the Tívoli Theatre in Barcelona, with Mireia Mambo Bokele as Deloris Van Cartier, Àngels Gonyalons as Mother Superior, Enrique Sequero as Curtis Jackson, Juan Delgado as Eddie Souther, Gara Roda as Sister Mary Robert, Malia Conde as Sister Mary Patrick, Silvia Abril as Sister Mary Lazarus, Fermí Reixach as Monsignor O'Hara, Ramón Balasch as Joey, Antonio Curros as TJ and Gerard Mínguez as Pablo.
Upcoming productions are being planned for Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil, New Brighton, Wirral, and Tuacahn Center for the Arts in Southern Utah in 2015. The production at Tuacahn will run from July 31-October 15.  
The Ogunquit Playhouse will produce one of the first regional premieres of Sister Act at the southern Maine theatre as part of their 83rd Season. The production will run from May 20 to June 20, 2015. 
In late 2010 Stage Entertainment announced a tour of the UK and Ireland. Cynthia Erivo was cast as Deloris, alongside Denise Black as the Mother Superior, Michael Starke as Monsignor O'Hara, Cavin Cornwall as Curtis Jackson, Edward Baruwa as Eddie Souther, Julie Atherton as Sister Mary Robert, Laurie Scarth as Sister Mary Patrick, Jacqueline Clarke as Sister Mary Lazarus, Gavin Alex as Pablo, Daniel Stockton as Joey and Tyrone Huntley as TJ. The toured opened at the Manchester Opera House on October 4, 2011 (following previews from September 29) and finished at the Birmingham Hippodrome on October 20, 2012.
The Second National North American Tour began in the Fall of 2014 as a non-equity tour through Troika. It is expected to continue through 2017.
The principal original casts of the West End and Broadway productions of Sister Act.
|Character||Original West End Cast||Original Broadway Cast||First UK Tour Cast||First US Tour Cast||First Spain Cast|
|Deloris Van Cartier / Sister Mary Clarence||Patina Miller||Cynthia Erivo||Ta'Rea Campbell||Mireia Mambo|
|Mother Superior||Sheila Hancock||Victoria Clark||Denise Black||Hollis Resnik||Àngels Gonyalons|
|Curtis Shank||Chris Jarman||Kingsley Leggs||Cavin Cornwall||Kingsley Leggs||Enrique Sequero|
|Lt. Eddie Souther||Ako Mitchell||Chester Gregory||Edward Baruwa||E. Clayton Cornelious||Juan Delgado|
|Sister Mary Robert||Katie Rowley Jones||Marla Mindelle||Julie Atherton||Lael Van Keuren||Gara Roda|
|Sister Mary Patrick||Claire Greenway||Sarah Bolt||Laurie Scarth||Florrie Bagel||Malia Conde|
|Sister Mary Lazarus||Julia Sutton||Audrie Neenan||Jacqueline Clarke||Diane J. Findlay||Silvia Abril|
|Monsignor Howard||Ian Lavender||Fred Applegate||Michael Starke||Richard Pruitt||Fermí Reixach|
Notable replacements for the West End production were: Whoopi Goldberg and Sally Dexter as Mother Superior, Simon Webbe as Curtis Shank and Jacqueline Clarke as Sister Mary Lazarus. Notable replacements for the Broadway production were: Raven-Symoné as Deloris van Cartier and Carolee Carmello as Mother Superior. In the American National Tour Chester Gregory returns to role as Eddie Souther. Lynne Wintersteller currently plays Mother Superior in the American National Tour
West End Song list
Broadway Song list
The Broadway orchestration includes 16 parts:
- Reed 1
- Reed 2
- Reed 3
- Trumpet 1
- Trumpet 2
- Trombone 1
- Trombone 2
- Drum Set
- Keyboard 1
- Keyboard 2
- Violin 1
- Violin 2
The tour orchestration includes 12 parts, with a keyboard part being played by the conductor:
- Reed 1
- Reed 2
- Trumpet 1
- Trumpet 2
- Drum Set
- Keyboard 1
- Keyboard 2
- Keyboard 3/Conductor
Second US National Tour
This orchestration is a modified version of the Broadway orchestration. Only 5 parts are played live while the others are prerecorded and played on a click track in MachFive:
- Keyboard 1/Conductor
- Keyboard 2
- MachFive (Reed 1, Reed 2, Reed 3, Trumpet 1, Trumpet 2, Trombone 1, Trombone 2, Percussion, Violin 1, Violin 2, Cello)
Critical opinion of the West End production has been mixed. Ian Shuttleworth of the Financial Times thought although the plot is filled with "great holes," "It's not a brainless show; Glenn Slater's lyrics are often enjoyably sharp. It's just that whenever the choice arises between creative and commercial, commercial wins out every time."
Charles Spencer in The Telegraph wrote Sister Act "proves more enjoyable on stage than it did on film" and "the cheers and standing ovation at the end were both genuine and deserved." He added, "The book, by Cheers writers Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, is strong, funny and touching. And the disco-inspired score by Disney favourite Alan Menken, with neat lyrics by Glenn Slater, is a cracker. Frankly, what's not to like, especially when you've got a chorus line of jiving nuns singing their hearts out ecstatically?"
While Michael Billington of The Guardian thought Alan Menken's music "has a pounding effectiveness," he rated the musical only two out of five stars, calling it "noisily aggressive" and "a show that feels less like a personally driven work of art than a commercial exploitation of an existing franchise." He continued, "What was originally a fairytale fantasy . . . makes little sense in its new, vulgarised incarnation. In the movie, the music arose naturally from the story: there was even a certain wit about seeing a group of wimpled warblers turned into a cohesive unit. But here, long before the heroine has got to work on their larynxes, they are leaping about the stage like showbiz pros telling us How I Got the Calling. In order to pad out a slight story, every key member of the cast also has to be given a number. As a result, the plot grinds to a halt while we hear about the macho fantasies of a sweaty cop, or the hoodlums weary us with their own wet dreams."
The Times critic, Benedict Nightingale rated the show three out of five stars, observing that "a rather sweet, sentimental film has been hyped up, coarsened, given what — were the Palladium flown to Times Square — we'd call the big, brash Broadway treatment . . . There's less deft comedy, but much more music, most of it indebted to the 1970s, where the action is now set. That lets Alan Menken, the composer, have a lot of catchy fun with period rock and disco."
In his review for the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts stated, "Call me a miserable old monk but I hated Sister Act. I hated its artistic laziness, its predictability, its incuriosity, its idea that disco is divine and that spirituality can never be found in discreet and dignified worship . . . I know I may be taking it too seriously but I found myself recoiling sharply from this story's saccharine values and its bullying gaiety. The thing is as shallow as the Aral Sea."
The Broadway production received mostly positive reviews.
Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press wrote in his review, "This is a musical that hits all the right spots, achieving something close to Broadway grace. It helps that the musical has great original tunes by songwriter Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater that skitters from Motown, to soul and funk, to disco and even a little jokey Barry White. Menken and Slater, who also teamed up for The Little Mermaid, know perfectly how to switch up the mood and tempo.
Elysa Gardner of USA Today gave the show three and a half out of four stars and said, "Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy may be less giddily profane, and thought-provoking, than The Book of Mormon, but it has its own distinct and surprising charms. Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater provide original tunes that nod cheekily, but with genuine affection, to that pop era while also propelling the story with a style and exuberance specific to well-crafted musical theater."
Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post also gave the show three and a half out of four stars and wrote, "Big, glitzy numbers are the toast of Broadway musicals. The only thing better? Big, glitzy numbers . . . with nuns! "Sister Act" has plenty of both—and it's one of the season's happiest surprises. Menken evokes the lush, funky sound of Philly soul without falling into mere pastiche: "When I Find My Baby" starts off like bedroom R&B before the lyrics take a hilarious turn. "Take Me to Heaven" and "Spread the Love Around" bloom into full-throttle disco epics, the latter building up to an ecstatic finale.
Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly gave the show a "B+" and wrote, "It's been a season of ill-conceived or just plain disappointing stage musicals based on movies...Who'd have guessed that the latest iteration of Broadway's recycling trend, Sister Act...would be such a lark? It helps that the show boasts a genuine star turn by newcomer Patina Miller as aspiring singer Deloris Van Cartier. While Sister Act relies on all-new music, thankfully the score is by gifted tunesmith Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast) and his longtime lyricist, Glenn Slater. There are some real melodic standouts here, boosted by the decision to re-set the show in 1977 Philadelphia."
Charles Isherwood of the New York Times gave the show a mixed review and wrote, "I wish I could report that the singing nuns from the Church of Philly Soul are giving those perky Mormons in Africa a run for their money in the unholy hilarity department. But when the jubilant choral numbers subside, as inevitably they must, "Sister Act" slumps back into bland musical-theater grooves and mostly lacks the light of invigorating inspiration. Mr. Menken, who wrote the lustrous period-pop score for "Little Shop of Horrors" (with the lyricist Howard Ashman), is a skillful interpreter of the Philadelphia sound." He did, however, praise Miller's performance, writing she "has a radiant presence and a strong voice with a tangy timbre. As Deloris Van Cartier, a would-be disco diva in 1970s Philly who goes on the lam when the bullets start flying, she truly comes into her own when Deloris sheds her purse full of wisecracks.
Steven Suskin of Variety gave the show an unfavorable review: "New tuner has various assets that place it comfortably in the feel-good entertainment category, and might have launched it to the top last season or even three months ago. But timing is everything. "Sister Act" comes in on the heels of a handful of musicals, including another disco-beat film adaptation (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), and comparisons are not favorable. The Broadway version of 'Sister Act' is glossy, but seems like a worn set of tires repatched too often."
Awards and nominations
Original London production
|2010||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Musical||Patina Miller||Nominated|
|Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Sheila Hancock||Nominated|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Anthony Van Laast||Nominated|
Original Broadway production
|2011||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Book of a Musical||Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner, and Douglas Carter Beane||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Alan Menken and Glenn Slater||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Patina Miller||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Victoria Clark||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Patina Miller||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Victoria Clark||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Alan Menken||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lyrics||Glenn Slater||Nominated|
Sister Act Nun Run
The Sister Act Nuns Run was first held in May 2009, just before the opening of the West End musical. When the team from Sister Act got together with the team from Barnardos it was decided a Nun Run would be a great way to promote the new musical as well as raise money for a great cause.
Despite it being a brand new charity run, almost 1000 people got dressed up as nuns to run the streets of London, and altogether they raised over £30,000, and on the back of its success it was decided that this 4 mile run was to be an annual event.
In late 2009 it was announced that the 2010 run was again to take place in May, but this time taking a different route, passing some of London's greatest landmarks such as The Tower of London, Tate Modern, and St. Paul's Cathedral.
To link the run with Sister Act the Musical (other than the fact everyone is dressed as nuns), some of the cast as well as Barnardo's Children's Choir give performances at the start line. This not only helps to fuse the link between Barnardo's and the show, but makes it a fun event, as it is designed as a charity event rather than for competitive runners.
The 2010 run sets this as an annual event which the organizers hope will grow year after year.
The 2011 run took place in September 2011 to coincide with the UK national tour.
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- "Whoopi Goldberg Withdraws From London's 'Sister Act' After Mother Suffers a Stroke" Playbill
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- Hetrick, Adam. "Victoria Clark, Fred Applegate, Chester Gregory Will Be Part of Broadway's 'Sister Act' ". Playbill.com, February 1, 2011
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- "Raise Your Voice! Carolee Carmello Replaces Victoria Clark in SISTER ACT as 'Mother Superior' 11/19" BroadwayWorld.com, November 1, 2011
- It's Official: She's Fabulous! Raven-Symone Joins SISTER ACT Mar. 27; Patina Miller Departs Mar. 18 broadwayworld.com, March 7, 2012
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-  (German)
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-  broadwayworld.com, October 5, 2011
- "Mireia Mambo and Àngels Gonyalons will lead Sister Act cast in Barcelona" broadwayworld.com, June 25, 2014
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- Spring Awakening, Enron and Red Score Big in Olivier Nominations
- 2011 Tony Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Earns 14 Nominations
- 56th Annual Drama Desk Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Scores 12 Nominations
- Sister Act Nun Run
- 11 SEP 2011: SISTER ACT - THE NUNS RUN 2011