The Songs of Sister Act – Lichfield Garrick

sister act

Out of the Habit

Sister Act has been a hugely successful film and stage musical, the former driven by the charisma and personality of Whoopi Goldberg. The gospel soul tinged music is evergreen, and so it is not surprising that an ensemble, in this case “The Singers of Soul” choir, have chosen to take the music on tour from London’s West End. It is to the Garrick’s credit that it offers productions like this a platform to find an audience.

The show’s aficionados hung on every song, led by an MC, who rabble roused the mid- week congregation. A four piece live band provided the music, a sparse six piece “choir”, two men and four women, provided the vocals. “I Will Follow” ( Not the U2 song) opened the show with promise, a slow ethereal opening giving way to an up-beat ending. From there on it was downhill.

The band shuffled on, looking like they were dressed for a trip to B&Q, not the band for a concert. The Choir wore token gowns, although one of them couldn’t even be bothered to do that up properly. The women looked like they had visited Shoezone and had a competition to find the worst footwear. Judging it would have been a difficult task. Half way through the first half the choir disrobed to reveal clothes that would have made them too feel at home on a Sunday outing to a DIY store. If they can’t be bothered, why should we? How I smiled when they sang “It doesn’t matter what you wear just as long as you are there”. It does boys and girls when people are paying almost £20 to see you perform.

It is usually always a delight to hear “What’s Going On” even if the absence of Marvin Gaye himself becomes more keenly felt in his absence, however their insipid take robbed the song of emotion and meaning. Time after time the arrangements were poor, never has “Ball of Confusion” been more ironically covered.” Dancing in the Street” was simply embarrassing. As for the choreography, I have seen slicker routines on a girls hen night at midnight, and more commitment to the steps too.

Rarely have I witnessed a professional show with lower production values. When the MC announced he was Scottish, on an evening when Scotland was deciding its future, I found myself willing a Yes, with him working the backstreet pubs of Glasgow forever. No programme was available denying me the opportunity to praise some decent voices, but shame the anonymous individuals behind this sham production.

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