Sister Act

Sister Act came out whilst I was heading towards religious life, its catchy songs becoming part of the soundtrack of my journey. Containing virtually every stereotype about nuns, it's not the best film to have around when you're trying to explain your radical life choice to someone sceptical; except that its underlying themes were also about love, and goodness, and the power of sisterhood and self-gift, which can all be understood, at least at an instinctive level. Fast forward thirty years, and for the past six weeks or so I've been living a short walk away from the theatre where Sister Act The Musical has been playing. And earlier this week - only a couple of days before the run ends - I went to see it with a friend from another congregation. 

Sitting in the cheapest seats, up in the gods (where else for two sisters?), and in a lively, jubilant sea of people - some wearing somewhat improbable veils - who had come to cheer on some equally improbable nuns, we had a thoroughly fun, enjoyable evening. My friend and I laughed heartily, clapped and cheered and were moved almost to tears, then back to laughter, all in a fast-paced short time. The production's 1970s setting meant all the over-the-top glitz and glam were absolutely right, and allowed for some entertaining nods to that era's music, as well as a truly psychedelic finale. Admittedly, this being theatrical musical comedy, some of the film's subtleties were lost, with some of the jokes and lyrics being bawdier, though generally affectionate; but love, and sisterhood and self-gift were still there, especially towards the end.

The show, alas, doesn't feature any of the film's fondly-remembered songs from the nuns' performances. No Hail Holy Queen, no My God, or I Will Follow Him... Instead, we had a fantastically up tempo Take Me to Heaven, which could never match the sweetness of those early 60s love songs reworked as love songs to God. There's an innocence to them, but also a deep joy, which has captured many hearts over the years, of all ages and backgrounds, religious or not.

Quite early on, the nuns sang It's Good to be a Nun, whilst also wryly listing the dozens of asceticisms which, actual or imagined, comprise many people's ideas of our vocation. I kept hoping that the lyrics would end with a reference to the overwhelming, God-given plus side, without which it risked sliding us into self-mocking masochism. In fact, it is good to be a nun: not despite or because of the asceticisms (or any little escapes, like Mother Superior's sly hip flask); but because of the loving abundance of God, whose at times mysterious hundredfold ensures that whatever's lost is nothing to what's gained. 

And among these gains are powerful love, and goodness, sisterhood, and self-gift, which meant I was very moved by the moment in which Deloris sang her realisation that she was now part of one terrific sister act... 

I've got my sisters by my side. I've got my sisters' love and pride. And with my sisters here, I have no fear - I'm right where I should be. And with my sisters in my heart, I know we'll never be apart. And no one on this earth can change that fact... I'm part of one terrific sister act...  

And any woman who is part of a religious community would certainly be able to sing along to that! Not just in a theatre, on one night, borne by the atmosphere, and not just on good, community bonding days. Even with inevitable irritations and differences, our communities, and the love of our sisters, are a dynamic, compelling, often strengthening part of that amazing hundredfold. 

And finally... a bonus I Will Follow Him for all the diehard Sister Act-ers among you - enjoy!


  1. oh| Thank you |

  2. Thanks it did me good...
    . Sister Sylvia 81 yrs old

  3. Thank you so much x

  4. So glad you enjoyed it so much !


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