Sister Act at Cambridge Corn Exchange: The audience all loved it

PUBLISHED: 00:23 13 December 2016 | UPDATED: 00:23 13 December 2016

Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood

Archant

The audience at Cambridge Corn Exchange stood on its feet and whooped and cheered at the end of Sister Act, directed and choreographed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood.

But I am afraid to say, I played his role as the show’s disgruntled judge. My face was a snarl.

My only reason to cheer was that the torture was over. I’ve probably seen a worse show but I can’t remember one.

There is no choreography to speak of, just the cast coming on and off stage in two lines. The deportment, the upper body, the shaping, the armography where is it darling!

People were out of step, hunched over, thumbs up all over the place. When exactly did Revel Horwood choreograph this show? Apparently, he can do this sort of thing with his eyes shut – they must have been.

There is not one memorable tune in this show. There was a whisper of a song, in which the cast, who all had great voices, were allowed to sing beautifully together, that was just before the interval, but it lasted moments and, to paraphrase Hamlet: the rest was yelling. The big ensemble numbers towards the end were strong but my goodness what you had to sit through to get there.

Yes, I know the idea in the first half is that the convent choir can’t sing together – but that doesn’t mean they can’t sing at all. Singing out of tune or out of harmony is one thing and can be very funny but screeching to pierce the ear-drums is not entertainment.

The performances were desperate for direction, Joanna Francis as Deloris, the night club singer who is hidden in the convent after she witnesses a murder, had some élan – as well as a belting voice. She deserved better care, a better play and much better songs or possibly arrangements of those songs.

The whole point of this show and where the humour comes from, is that a nightclub singer, a material girl, whose ambition is fame and fur, is placed with a group of women who have foresworn the world and mammon.

You lose the contrast, if the nuns also want to go out to the pub for a beer. This and other scenes were hackneyed and clumsy, stylised and embarrassingly bad.

Darcey, of course would have been kind and said: “The energy!” Bruno would have said: “Well you did your best” and then found a cinematic reference and laughed saying: “I thought I was in a Hammer Horror.” Len would have just growled and gone off to pickle his walnuts. But back to the audience - they all loved it. The show runs until December 17.

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