The heavens regularly open on the Edinburgh Fringe, but few shows are ever truly blessed.
Filling all those who walk through the doors of the Gilded Balloon’s Rose Theatre with heaps of spiritual joy, Sister Act is the tonic for the doom and gloom of the outside world.
In Captivate Theatre’s production, the whole auditorium explodes with stardust, bringing the raw talent and the glitz of London’s West End to the small stage in Edinburgh.
Most people will be familiar with the story from the hugely successful film series: Dolores Van Cartier, a Vegas lounge singer, is witness to a murder and is hidden in an unassuming convent. Plans to keep her undercover are quickly blown as she is tasked with putting the church choir through their paces.
A heartwarming, feel-good, fabulous production, Sister Act proves that talent isn’t limited to huge theatres with astronomical ticket prices.
Edinburgh’s own Captivate Theatre brings the production to life – with some help from the Holy Spirit – in a delightful two-hour slot on the Fringe programme.
As Dolores, later becoming Sister Mary Clarence, Mia Oudeh is a revelation. In such an intimate setting, it’s unusual to be graced by someone with such huge talent.
Oudeh’s vocal performance is astounding, but she also plays the character with a warmth that makes her audience feel genuine empathy for the protagonist. She looks and sounds every bit the star of the character she plays.
Sister Mary Robert (Mhairi Goodwin) clearly takes inspiration from the film version of the story and has infectious happiness that could bring a smile to the most sour-faced.
The ensemble of singing nuns are quite simply extraordinary. “Raise Your Voice” doesn’t just raise the roof, it tears it down and builds it up again. Against a stripped-back set, they fill the entire venue with pure, unfiltered joy. They are all clearly having just as much fun as their captivated audience.
It’s tempting to namecheck each cast member individually for their incredible contribution to this masterpiece, but it is worth singling out Aidan Cross as (Sweaty) Eddie, a man whose whole persona changes through the piece – a real treat to watch his character develop.
The script itself is hilariously funny, with divinely inspired Catholic puns and a whole lot of soul. It’s the perfect balance of fun, frolics and faith.
A couple of quick-change numbers, as well as the glitzy finale, highlight the brilliant work of the wardrobe team of Mairi Cross, Charlotte Nicolson and Olive Lyall.
This show packs in glamour like it’s going out of fashion. Sister Act is a certified version of how musical theatre should be done.
Sister Act at Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre until 11 August