A night filled with singing nuns, sleazy stooges and so many sequins
Now into their 106th year of putting on productions in Edinburgh, the Bohemian Lyric Opera Company came together once again at the King’s Theatre with their production of Sister Act.
The show opened with a bit of a shaky start, with too many breaks between lines preventing the dialogue from flowing and a vacant stage, which gave the impression that perhaps the stage was a little too big for this amateur group. That said, when the action moved to the convent setting, everything changed for the better.
It was clear that it was the church setting where most of the budget had gone, and rightly so. From the moment the nun ensemble appeared on stage, the quality of performance soared to amazing heights. There was a fantastic dynamic between the leading women of the convent, and the confidence that these women gave off was electric. The energetic and fluent interaction between Sister Mary Robert, Sister Mary Lazarus and Sister Mary Patrick alongside the show’s protagonist, Deloris Van Cartier in the guise of Sister Mary Clarence, led to many laughs and heartfelt moments. There were many standout performances; particularly Mairi Beaver’s portrayal of the young Sister Mary Roberts, whose performance and singing stole the spotlight in every scene she appeared. In addition, leading actress Niloo Far-Khan did well to make the role of diva Deloris her own, rather than attempting to imitate the performance that Whoopi Goldberg made famous in the original 1992 film. Her loud, powerful voice and charisma were more reminiscent of Barbara Streisand, and yet it is during the title song that her voice truly shone, as she revealed a more vulnerable side to the character.
Admittedly there were a number of mistakes, with the technical team letting down the actors with the use of lighting and microphones and the chase scenes at the beginning and end of the show being far too clumsy. That said, while it may not meet the expert quality of more professional productions, Sister Act was a showcase for everything that is great about amateur groups. The cast members were not afraid to have fun, and everyone on stage looked like they were having the time of their life. By not taking themselves too seriously, moments such as the appearance of men dressed in neon green wigs, wearing outfits representing Britney Spears’ ‘Hit me baby one more time’ glory-days, and later having the whole cast appear in outfits made entirely made out of sequins (seriously, so many sequins…) was fully embraced and loved by the whole audience. Even the performance of ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ by Curtis’ stooges, which was cringey enough to make you squirm, was undoubtedly one of the funniest moments of the show.
Overall, Sister Act is a show full of laughs, tears and jokes about Catholicism, and the Bohemian Lyric Opera Company certainly didn’t disappoint.