REVIEW: Sister Act story on stage is strictly fabulous baby

Alexandra Burke in Sister Act, this week at the Opera House, Blackpool
Alexandra Burke in Sister Act, this week at the Opera House, Blackpool

Whatever ‘The X Factor’ may actually be - one thing’s for sure: Sister Act The Musical has it.

The streets around the Winter Gardens were alive with the sound of music - to steal from another famous show about nuns - everyone buzzing with a supernatural high as the near-capacity audience headed home after a dazzling evening of theatrical magic.

Alexandra Burke in Sister Act, this week at the Opera House, Blackpool

Alexandra Burke in Sister Act, this week at the Opera House, Blackpool

The show is based on the Whoopi Goldberg film of the same name, with fantastic original music by Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast), following club singer Deloris Van Cartier as she’s hidden in a convent after seeing her gangster boyfriend shoot someone.

X Factor winner Alexandra Burke - announced on Monday as competing in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing - tackles the huge lead role with ease, her voice soaring through the demanding soulful score. It's her last week with the tour, which closes in Dublin next week, and she is certainly working hard to make it count.

In truth, it’s an ensemble production and every character has a moment to shine - with special mention for St Annes’ Tim Maxwell-Clarke as Monsignor O’Hara.

But it's company numbers such as Raise Your Voice, Take Me To Heaven and Spread The Love Around which really take it to another level.

Directed the Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood, the show runs at pace, although I’m not sure making it an actor-musician production adds very much - in fact, it stifles the potential for some more imaginative choreography.

That's such a minor gripe though, and when 2,600-plus people join together in theatrical worship, you'd have the hardest of hearts to not be swept along by these songs of praise.

This show certainly spreads the love around, it’s Fabulous Baby.

*Sister Act, Opera House, Blackpool. Until Sunday.