“Sister Act” @Broadway: (Fast) Ein Hit bei den Kritikern

USA Today [Elysa Gardner]

History has taught us that there are few subjects as polarizing as religion. But a few current Broadway productions suggest otherwise.
This season’s two most winning new musicals to date both put faith in the forefront with a mixture of satire and sweetness that can be embraced by the pious and non-believers alike.
The latest entry, Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy (***½out of four), may be less giddily profane, and thought-provoking, than The Book of Mormon, but it has its own distinct and surprising charms.

Variety [Steven Suskin]

Whoopi Goldberg looms large over the new musical comedy “Sister Act,” and that’s part of the problem. While she co-produced, Goldberg isn’t onstage, and the outsized sense of hilarity mixed with humanity she brought to the 1992 motion picture is sorely missed. Patina Miller makes an altogether impressive Broadway debut as diva-on-the-run Deloris Van Cartier, singing up a veritable storm, but the decision to plaster Goldberg’s name on numerous signs outside the theater raises comparisons that flatter neither Miller nor this garish production.
New tuner has various assets that place it comfortably in the feel-good entertainment category, and might have launched it to the top last season or even three months ago. But timing is everything. “Sister Act” comes in on the heels of a handful of musicals, including another disco-beat film adaptation (”Priscilla Queen of the Desert”), and comparisons are not favorable.

The New York Times [Steve Suskin]

Mr. Menken, who wrote the lustrous period-pop score for «Little Shop of Horrors” (with the lyricist Howard Ashman), is a skillful interpreter of the Philadelphia sound. And he and Mr. Slater supply dutiful versions of the musical-theater sacraments: comic numbers for the club owner, Curtis (Kingsley Leggs), and his henchmen; a romantic Lou Rawls-style groove for Chester Gregory as Deloris’s adorer and protector, the policeman assigned to guard her; and climactic soul-baring ballads for Deloris and the mother superior, and Sister Mary Robert too, in which each questions the tenets of her personal faith.
But with the exception of a couple of those roof raisers, the songs in «Sister Act” are more serviceable than memorable. Maybe that’s not so surprising given the predictable plot proceeding mechanically along two suspense-free tracks: Will Deloris escape the bloodthirsty Curtis and his minions? And will her tutelage of the singing nuns help save the church from being sold to a couple of bachelor antiques dealers? (That gag is one of Mr. Beane’s gay-friendly interpolations into the new production.)
The musical’s draggy conventionality lifts only when the sisters break out into their rousing gospel numbers, which grow more lavish as the evening proceeds, and the church is, for all intents and purposes, transmogrified into a fabulous reproduction of the old Limelight, the Manhattan nightclub housed in a former church in the 1980s. (It now contains a bouquet of high-end boutiques, possibly what Mr. Beane’s joke about those antiques dealers was alluding to.)

The Hollywood Reporter [David Rooney]

Lead producer Whoopi Goldberg is the name above the title of “Sister Act,” playing indefinitely at New York’s Broadway Theater.
This enjoyable family-friendly musical adaptation’s biggest draw is the brand she was instrumental in forging in the 1992 Touchstone movie and its sequel. But paradoxically, Goldberg is also a handicap here, demonstrating that hers are tough shoes to fill in a comedy.
But despite some missteps, “Sister Act” comes together to provide payoff in laughs, emotional uplift and spectacle. Who doesn’t want to see nuns in silver-sequined habits boogie down while a giant Virgin Mary statue subs for a disco ball, and a wall of stained-glass church windows pulses like a multicolored dance floor?
In the end, these brides of Christ are not so different from the spotlight-loving drag queens a few blocks away in “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” And for audiences seeking entertainment without penance, that’s probably no bad thing.

New York Post [Elisabeth Vincentelli]

Big, glitzy numbers are the toast of Broadway musicals. The only thing better? Big, glitzy numbers . . . with nuns! «Sister Act” has plenty of both — and it’s one of the season’s happiest surprises.
Menken evokes the lush, funky sound of Philly soul without falling into mere pastiche: «When I Find My Baby” starts off like bedroom R&B before the lyrics take a hilarious turn. «Take Me to Heaven” and «Spread the Love Around” bloom into full-throttle disco epics, the latter building up to an ecstatic finale.

Associated Press [Mark Kennedy]

It’s time to stop mocking Mormons. And high time to have fun with Roman Catholics.
“Sister Act” — the crowd-pleasing musical that rhymes “chicks” with “crucifix” — opened Wednesday at the Broadway Theatre, having imported its dancing nuns from a well-received stint in London.
Calibrated to be frothy, giggly and yet often poignant, the Jerry Zaks-directed musical is based on the 1992 movie of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg, who is now producing. This is a musical that hits all the right spots, achieving something close to Broadway grace.

amNewYork.com [Matt Windmann]

This has not been a great season for Broadway musicals based on movies. «Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” was a total bust, and «Catch Me If You Can” was a disappointment, too.
So it’s a pleasure to find that «Sister Act,” a new adaptation of the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film comedy, is energetic, hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable. In spite of a few issues, it has all the makings of a feel-good hit.
The one-liners by Douglas Carter Beane, who rewrote the book’s scenes for Broadway, are cute. Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater provide a catchy score built on period pop and disco with a few touches of gospel.
Patina Miller delivers a breakout performance as Deloris, displaying genuine sex appeal, musical-comedy chops and a phenomenal voice. Tony winner Victoria Clark is similarly terrific as the strict but sincere Mother Superior.

Bloomberg News [Jeremy Gerard]

Whoopi Goldberg, who carried the «Sister Act” film franchise in the early 1990s, returns as a lead producer of the Broadway version of the comedy. And just as the films confirmed Goldberg’s box office appeal, so the show is likely to sprinkle stardust on a roof-raising singer named Patina Miller.
Miller plays that supreme wannabe Deloris Van Cartier, who witnesses her married boyfriend (Kingsley Leggs) killing a colleague of dubious loyalty.
Miller’s big, brassy voice and unwholesome swagger inject just the right amount of sizzle into the proceedings. In short order, she transforms a group of mousy nuns from meek choir singers to foot-stomping, palm-waving, ear-splitting cheerleaders for Jesus.
Praise the Lord, or Jerry Zaks, the enterprising director who has turned a chancy enterprise, which debuted in London, into a ripping goodtime hit.

New York Magazine [Scott Brown]

Miller’s an enormous presence, and what she lacks in character detail (there’s precious little to build on in Douglas Carter Beane’s very funny, very thin book), she generally makes up in brass and goodwill. Be warned: This is a show that’s not afraid to do a rappin’ granny number (the same rappin’ granny number, in fact, from The Wedding Singer). If that sort of thing doesn’t put a hitch in your rosary, you’ll likely get religion at Sister Act.


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