Interestingly, the two theatrical experiences I had while touring the UK involved singing nuns.
When I was in Edinburgh, one of the few theatrical options available was the tour of the revival of The Sound of Music, a production that was notable for casting the original Maria through a reality series. Well, that Maria, Connie Fisher, was headlining the tour. Unfortunately, I seemed to catch a British version of a bus-and-truck tour with undersized sets in an oversized venue. And the leading lady’s performance had disintigrated from the charmingly engaged Maria that I saw in the original production 3 years ago (video below) to a vocally-preserving automaton who only became engaged when she found the opportunity to enliven a scene with multiple spit-takes.
Mercifully, there were some lovely supporting performances, particularly Clair Fishenden, one of the first Liesls that I’ve ever seen who looks like she may be 16. Also, Martin Callaghan was the first Max I’ve ever seen to bring the requisite charm and humor to the role.
The theatrical highlight of the trip was seeing the London production of the new musical version of Sister Act. Although the individual elements are very, very good — wonderful original score, great performances, amazing set — the show is a triumph of producing. The elements are blended to give the audience a terrific experience. Elements from the movie are also subtly and suitably changed to make the production work as a new theatrical being. Particularly effective is moving the show to the late 70’s, enabling Alan Menken and Glenn Slater an ability to make the score a terrific pastiche of the decade’s sounds. Patina Miller creates a very specific, likable character that has almost as much Pam Grier as Whoopi Goldberg in it. and it was a thrill to see Sheila Hancock, the original London Mrs. Lovett, as the Reverand Mother. (I’ve been playing the cast album alot since returning.)