Disco-dancing nuns ‘will leave you dazed’

Star Theatre/Arts reviewer Georgia O’Connor-Harding

Diva fever has struck town. And what is there not to worship about disco-dancing nuns crossed with soulful toe-tapping beats bound to take you to cloud nine?

Go-go boots, disco balls and shimmering lights are in the house, as Showbiz Christchurch stages its groovy new production of Sister Act.

This show is a visual spectacle, and when those nuns get down to boogie in their sparkling get-ups under gleaming stages lights, it will leave you dazed – seriously, this show is bright.

But there is a heart-warming substance behind all those sparkles which stars a vocally powerful cast led by the bold Monique Clementson.

As many will know already, the story is set around a hopeful diva who finds herself in a convent as part of a witness protection programme after she accidentally sees her dangerous boyfriend kill a member of his crew.

Yet this tale will have you beaming from ear-to-ear as one line wonder, Deloris Van Cartier (Clementson), transforms a tone-deaf choir of nuns into a heavenly-sounding ensemble.

The nuns made the show, especially in large ensemble numbers Take Me to Heaven and Raise Your Voice.

The fact their dancing was ever so slightly out of sync at times was actually what made them compelling to watch. To me it emphasised real people learning the joys of dance and breaking away from everyday, conventional life.

A highlight is when Nickie Wellbourn, as the no-nonsense Sister Mary Lazarus, raps – no surprise that received a big applause.

The choreography was clever, especially the dynamic performance of When I Find My Baby, featuring gangsters and edgy dancers, Ella Wilson and Jenna Morris-Williamson, as hookers.

Clementson did a marvellous job of the Philadelphia accent, which was no easy feat.

While it sounded as though the microphones needed to be turned up slightly in the opening number, Clementson is a strong performer and her charismatic stage presence made it easy to see why she was chosen for the sassy role of Deloris.

You cannot forget the slick-moving sets, which add to the visual finesse of the show.

Glitzy night clubs transforming into beautiful neo-Gothic style churches portray the theme of the show beautifully and deserved to be applauded.

There is nothing like watching an unlikely friendship between a diva and a group of nuns blossom, and it was beautiful to watch the nuns put their lives on the line to save Deloris from murder.

But humour and happy tunes are the bread and butter of this upbeat show and will have audiences bopping all the way home.

Break out the bell bottoms!

The late seventies were a time of iconic energy that refused to be contained – John Travolta brought a new level of style to the white flared disco suit while Diana Ross’ retro wardrobe choices set the tone for the era.

The seventies represented a vibrant era of psychedelic colours, bellbottoms, Donna Summer hairstyles, liberation and love; culture at its boldest and brightest.

As an inspiring tribute to these iconic times, Showbiz Christchurch is hosting a ‘70s Night on 22 September to coincide with its highly anticipated season of Sister Act, which is set in 1977.

The show tells the story of wannabe disco diva Deloris Van Cartier, on the run from her gangster boyfriend. She hides in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be a found: a convent!

Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and the uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco talents, Deloris inspires the nuns to create a contemporary choir, and they become the hit of the community.

Word of their success reaches her ex-boyfriend, who tracks her down to the convent. A battle ensues between the mob and Deloris’s newly found sisterhood of feisty nuns.

Filled with powerful gospel music, outrageous dancing and a truly moving story, Sister Act is a sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship.

Seventies lovers are invited to dress up in their favourite outfit that pays homage to this era and come along to see the show (standard ticket prices apply). The night will be themed with a ‘70s disco vibe, spot prizes and a grand prize of luxury Christchurch hotel accommodation and 2 x Premium Tickets for the first Showbiz show of 2018 for the best costume are up for grabs.