Theatre Review: “Sister Act” @ The Broadway Theatre, 6/22/11

All I can say is this: if Sister Act would have opened in the 2009-2010 Broadway season it would have won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Hands down! To be honest, it is the best new musical I’ve seen on Broadway in the last two seasons. It is hard to dislike a chorus of spectacular singing nuns in shiny sequin costumes belting their faces off. It absolutely blew me away.

The first time I saw this show was in London was in November 2009. I had some issues with book, especially among the male supporting characters. There was also some continuity issues in the plot. They were more focused on the flash and glitz and the heart of the story was lost. Every change they made from London to Broadway was the correct addition or subtraction. The story is clearer, the relationships between characters are stronger, and the show flows so much easier. In the end, the show actually becomes even flashier than it initially intended because it has so much heart to it.

I walked into a show that I thought was going to be so-so and it ended up being absolutely fabulous! As Deloris sings, “It’s fabulous, baby!”.

Patina Miller (Deloris Van Cartier) had a new vigor to the role that made her Tony-nominated performance unstoppable. The relationship arc between Deloris and Mother Superior (the incomparable Victoria Clark) was so heartwarming. I actually teared up a little bit in the middle of the second act because their intense love-and-hate relationship was so connected and effective. Plus, the added song, “Haven’t Got a Prayer”, sung by Mother Superior was one of the best moments in the show. It was beautiful.

The set designed by Klara Zieglerova was stunning and was robbed of a Tony nomination and the 2011 Tony Award for Set Design. (It was way more creative and intuitive than The Book of Mormon’s or The Scottsboro Boy’s set.) It reverently moved to encapsulate the beautiful convent called The Holy Order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith. At points, it was breathtaking. It was one of the most beautiful sets I’ve ever seen.

The nuns were spectacular. Sister Mary Robert (Marla Mindelle) was one of my favorites. Her incredible number, “The Life I Never Led” was amazing. Ms. Mindelle has an incredible belt and Menken’s music isn’t afraid of showing it off! Almost every song in the second act was a show-stopper (except for the guys’ number, “Lady in the Long Black Dress”). The second act blew me away, number after number. It just kept getting better and better until their joyous closing number, “Spread the Love Around”, which they performed for the Pope.

The music, by genius Alan Menken, was hummable, fun and engaging. (I can’t wait to hear the Broadway cast recording!) The book by Cheri Steinkellner & Bill Steinkellner was fantastic thanks to Broadway’s “book-fixer”, Douglas Carter Beane. The cast was incredible. It’s rare that I want and will pay to see a show again on Broadway, but I could easily see this show multiple times! Take your friends. Take your family. Take everybody! They will ALL love it.

This production is a God-send and the only show on Broadway that can honestly claim that it’s “God’s Favorite Musical”, because it is.

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