Every time the film Sister Act came on the TV, my gang of three children would sit on the sofa and sing along with delight as Whoopi Goldberg (Doloris van Cartier) ditched her lowlife, married lover Curtis and the chewing gum for a non voluntary spell in a convent. They sang along to the songs word for word, as within days Whoopi got the sisters singing sensationally and pulling in a full crowd every Sunday into the church.
As a plot it was unbelievable to say the least, but the characterisation, great soundtrack and its warmth pulled the film together. The musical too has been attracting audiences around the world for years, so something's right. But what could director and choreographer Craig Revel Horwood and this new production bring to the Sister Act party?
Thanks to the lovely Linda, who offered me a spare ticket, I was off to see Sister Act on a sweltering Saturday afternoon for the last matinee - what was called "a relaxed performance" on the last day of the show at Curve in Leicester.
What? No Alexandra Burke as Doloris? She'd been getting some great reviews. Well no, her place was taken by Joanna Francis who I absolutely adored for her sassiness, her verve and her singing.
Mind you, I knew as soon as the nuns filed on stage singing loudly and excruciatingly out of tune, right at the start, we were in for a treat.
What a hardworking cast, playing multiple roles , playing musical instruments , dancing and acting with real brio and humour - bringing a new meaning to multi tasking.
I particularly liked Jon Robyn's Sweaty Eddie, the policeman who has fallen for Doloris. As he sang "I could be that guy" to the perfectly timed sounds of the down and outs heaving (on stage, not in the audience) , he showed a real tenderness...and got whoops of delight from quite a few ladies in the audience.
What can I say about the nuns? Having being in a convent school myself for a year or two, I have some very interesting memories about nuns. Rosemary Ashe as Sister Mary Lazarus though, the deadpan head of the choir was a joy as she rapped, bumped and grinded her way through several numbers, and Karen Mann as Mother Superior played her role with poignancy.
Call me shallow, but the scene which stole the show for me was "The Lady in the Long Black Dress" where TJ, Bones and Dinero, Curtis's three henchman, discuss how they're going to take Doloris from the convent .
It's a fantastic Floaters esque parody with lyrics like "Forget Jehovah, cause the wait is over, come to Casanova for romance". I've seen this number done times before, but this is the funniest and filthiest version yet!
Such a laviscious performance from Ricky Rojas, Samuel Morgan Graham and Sandy Grigelis. Sandy (playing TJ) especially made me howl with laughter - the things he was doing with his guitar...
Craig Revel Horwood, this had your paw prints all over it...and it was fabulous.
The whole show was -the audience thought so too, giving a final standing ovation and singing along and clapping to a final, final number.
By now ,the cast and company will be in Monaco, playing five nights at the Casino de Monte Carlo, before a huge UK tour visiting over 40 towns and cities during the next year.
Book your seats now, and no, I'm not being paid to say this. It's a great show - don't miss it!