It is never a good start for any performance when ‘technical difficulties’ delay the start, particularly for half an hour in a particularly humid, packed theatre on an August Bank holiday Monday night.
And it was clear when curtains finally came up just after 8pm, that the enforced delays had left several of the cast as well the audience a tad discombobulated.
Nerves were apparent in the opening scenes but as the the cast got into their stride the audience went along for the ride, making for a memorable performance by a truly talented cast.
Alexandra Burke of X Factor fame was perfectly cast as the outrageous singer on the run Deloris van Cartier, making the role made famous by Whoopi Goldberg her own, and once again proving she has the vocal chops to shine on stage following her extremely successful run in the Bodyguard.
There is no doubt that she and the other nuns are the stars of this piece, juggling Craig Revel-Horwood’s (of Strictly fame’s) witty choreography, with some roof-raising and memorable numbers.
Sarah Goggin’s performance as Sister Mary Robert constantly drew the eye and raised the roof with her remarkable voice..
But set pieces and solos by the male cast members, gave the production a depth and context that set up the exhilarating ensemble numbers.
Under Revel-Horwood’s direction, the comic acting and singing by Aaron Lee Lambert, Ricky Rojas, Sandy Grigelis, Jon Robyns andSamuel Morgan-Grahame has the audience sniggering and laughing out loud.
All the music was produced live by the cast and small band, meaning some characters were singing, dancing, acting and playing a variety of wind and string instruments. There was so much going on it was difficult to know where to look on stage ( in a good way).
If I was being super critical I would say this approach left a slight disconnect between some of the scenes, possibly due to the multi-role playing and hard-working cast being tasked with moving scenery and performing simultaneously.
But like all good productions the niggles seem to melt away as the performance progressed.
The audience were on their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation at the end as the production ended on an extremely enjoyable high note.
Sister Act is on at Manchester Palace Theatre until September 3.