Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 12:32 UK

Ovation for Whoopi's Sister Act


Whoopi Goldberg at the premiere of Sister Act The Musical, which received a standing ovation from the audience

Hollywood star Whoopi Goldberg received a standing ovation at the opening night of her West End musical Sister Act at the London Palladium.

The actress, who also starred in the original film, took to the stage as the audience rose to their feet.

"Those performers put everything on the line tonight and they deserved a standing ovation," she said.

Veteran actress Sheila Hancock plays Mother Superior, while newcomer Patina Miller takes up Goldberg's role.

"Before hand I was a mess, but I think just talking to Whoopi before I actually went on stage and then I talked to my parents and everyone around me," Miller said.

"You've got to stop the nerves at the door and as soon as the lights go down honey you've just got to do it and that's what I did. It was great."

As in the hit 1992 film, she plays Deloris Van Cartier, a singer who goes into hiding disguised as a nun after witnessing a murder.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gok Wan, Cilla Black and Christopher Biggins were among the guests at the event.

Bruce Forsyth, who was also in the audience, said the show was "absolutely tremendous".

She's got a dynamic personality, her singing, her moving, her acting are just wonderful
Bruce Forsyth on Sheila Hancock

He said Hancock was "magic" and described Miller as "one of the most incredible performers I have ever seen".

"She's got a dynamic personality, her singing, her moving, her acting are just wonderful," the veteran entertainer added.

The score, which is packed with disco, soul and gospel influences is by the multi-Oscar winning Alan Menken.

He has written songs for movies such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast.

Goldberg has said of the production: "The stage version of the show is fresh and new and I'm beyond thrilled to be part of it."


Michael Billington from the Guardian was not impressed:

What we have here is a show that feels less like a personally driven work of art than a commercial exploitation of an existing franchise. Alan Menken's music admittedly has a pounding effectiveness and the opening number, Take Me to Heaven, is skilfully turned into a hymn to religious, rather than sensual, ecstasy. All too typically the nuns, in Anthony van Laast's choreography, kick up their heels like the Rockettes and prance around in gilt vestments that might be described as surplice to requirements.

Benedict Nightingale from the Times gave three out of five stars:

There's less deft comedy, but much more music, most of it indebted to the 1970s, where the action is now set. That lets Alan Menken, the composer, have a lot of catchy fun with period rock and disco, even parodying a famous number with a rousing chorus for early Mass, Sunday Morning Fever. And that lets Patina Miller display the first of her star qualities, a terrific voice. Add warmth, humour, vivacity - and you've a star who lacks Whoopi's wry vulnerability but adds dazzle to the razzle around her.

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Variety Sister Act - 33 hrs ago
Business Day Sister Act gets ovation - but critics hate it - 35 hrs ago
Telegraph Whoopi Goldberg joins Sister Act cast on West End stage - 39 hrs ago
ITN Whoopi Goldberg hits London's West End - 44 hrs ago

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