'Sister Act' review — Beverley Knight returns to the musical with powerhouse vocals

Read our review of Sister Act, starring Beverley Knight, Ruth Jones, Lesley Joseph, Lizzie Bea, and Lemar, now in performances at the Dominion Theatre until 31 August.

Olivia Rook
Olivia Rook

Hallelujah! Beverley Knight is back in the habit at London’s Dominion Theatre, reprising the role of Deloris Van Cartier, in this beloved musical about a lounge singer who is forced into a witness protection programme at a Philadelphia convent because she sees her gangster boyfriend commit murder.

Knight is joined by a number of familiar faces, who also starred in the Eventim Apollo production of Sister Act in 2022, including Lesley Joseph, Clive Rowe, and Lizzie Bea, but a new addition to the cast is Gavin and Stacey’s Ruth Jones, making her West End musical theatre debut as Mother Superior.

Fans of the BBC sitcom will be delighted to know that her Welsh roots are neatly slotted into the production, with Jones announcing at the beginning of the show that she crossed the pond 30 years ago from her native Wales. It becomes a running gag, from the red dragons of the Welsh flag emblazoned across the soles of her feet, to moments when she briefly transforms into Nessa, such as when an audience member wolf-whistles her appearance in nightgown and bonnet and she simply says “oh.” The Gavin and Stacey references land every time, but they also help to mask a slightly undercooked performance.

Jones can carry a tune, but she is eclipsed by the other strong vocals on stage. In particular, in her solo number “I Haven’t Got a Prayer” — which is full of personality — she avoids hitting the big notes.

SISTER ACT 2024. Ruth Jones. Photo Johan Persson (2)

Knight’s powerhouse voice, however, is never in question. She is a consummate professional, hitting every note, line, and gag, of which there are plenty. In particular, her take on the Lord’s Prayer — hilarious when performed by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 film, and even better delivered by Knight on stage — is threaded together perfectly. She is sassy, full of attitude, and larger than life.

Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s earworm number “Take Me to Heaven” is a delight in the hands of Knight, who shimmers like a human disco ball in costume designer Morgan Large’s gorgeous, glittering mini dress, complete with knee-high purple boots.

Lizzie Bea takes the endearing Sister Mary Robert on an incredible journey, from shy wallflower to one of the leading singers in the convent’s choir, and impresses when she finds her voice. Singer-songwriter Lemar, another new addition to the cast, is underused as Deloris’s gangster boyfriend Curtis Jackson, but brings his signature silky smooth vocals to the role.

His henchmen (played by Bradley Judge, Damian Buhagiar, and Tom Hopcroft) deliver a borderline pantomime performance, but their camp number “Lady in the Long Dress” is the perfect mix of cheesy and seedy, all gyrating hips and, in the case of Buhagiar’s Pablo, rippling abs. When they do finally break into the convent as undercover nuns, fight director Kev McCurdy executes a brilliantly slapstick chase sequence, as the real nuns round up the gangsters, running after them with a giant crucifix and swinging a pair of censers.

The finale is a feast for the eyes, with Large’s rainbow-coloured, glittering habits stealing the show. It’s great to have the nuns back in the capital.

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Photo credit: Lizzie Bea, Beverley Knight, and company in Sister Act. (Photo by Johan Persson)

Originally published on

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