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Review: Sister Act, Ipswich Regent, to November 5

PUBLISHED: 09:56 01 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:56 01 November 2016

The cast of Sister Act at the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Tristram Kenton

The cast of Sister Act at the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Tristram Kenton

©Tristram Kenton

Record-breaking X Factor winner Alexandra Burke raised the roof in a spellbinding performance as Deloris Van Cartier.

Aaron Lee Lambert as Curtis in Sister Act at the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Tristram KentonAaron Lee Lambert as Curtis in Sister Act at the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Tristram Kenton

Based on the hit film by Joseph Howard, adapted from the book by Cherri and Bill Steinkellner and with original music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the show is directed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood who’s certainly put his fab-u-lous stamp on the production.

From the impressive church setting - which changed seamlessly between pieces - and the glorious lighting and uplifting choruses, Sister Act was a class act that had the whole audience on their feet by the dazzling finale.

Burke commanded the stage with finesse and although I wasn’t convinced by her acting in the opening scenes, she soon fell into character, being sassy, sexy and hilarious all at the same time. There was no doubting her singing talent from the very first notes of foot-stomper Take Me To Heaven, followed by Fabulous, Baby!

What a voice. The star held the audience in rapture with her smoky deep, mellow tones, rising in a crescendo to hit and hold beautiful notes effortlessly. All the arrangements featuring Burke perfectly showcased the depth and nuances of her vocal range.

The addition of glitterballs dispersing light around the theatre for many of the numbers only added to the magic of the music.

Aaron Lee Lambert as Deloris’ dangerous beau brought comic relief with his gang of crooks, whose hilarious number Lady in the Long Black Dress had us crying with laughter.

Further humour was found in Jon Robyns’ turn as cop Sweaty Eddie too. He played the character with just the right amount of humility and fun, and was a double act to Burke’s star on the night. We especially loved his jazzy number I Could Be That Guy. Look out for the costume changes.

As for the line-up of nuns? Their characters took me back to when I was a girl watching the film for the first time. Each was spot on and they really made the show, giving it heart, charm and hilarious comic breaks with their naughty but nice one-liners and brutally awful singing - pre-Deloris, of course.

From start to finish Sister Act was a total joy. Uplifting, full of musical joie de vivre and packed with soul. That many of the ensemble and leads played instruments on stage throughout too only added to what was a brilliant that really shouldn’t be missed.

Read our interview with Burke here.

CHARLOTTE SMITH-JARVIS

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