Whoopi Goldberg is to co-produce a musical version of her hit 1992 film Sister Act in the West End. The new production opens at the London Palladium on 2 June 2009, after previews from 7 May.
The Golden Globe-nominated comedy film starred Goldberg as singer Deloris Van Cartier, who, after witnessing a murder by the mob, is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found – a convent. Disguised as a nun, she quickly finds fans amongst her fellow sisters, but manages to get on the wrong side of the convent’s Mother Superior. Soon the singer turns her attention to helping the convent’s off-key choir, but, with the mob on her tail, she risks blowing her cover for good.
Though Goldberg will not be back in the habit for the stage musical version – and no casting has yet been confirmed – the actress is producing the show in the West End with Stage Entertainment. “If you are fortunate enough to be a part of something wonderful, I feel it’s important to pass the baton,” she said in a statement. “The best way for me to be a part of this new incarnation of Sister Act is to make sure everyone knows it’s happening. The stage version of the show is fresh and new and I’m beyond thrilled to be part of it.”
This is not Goldberg’s first foray into stage production – she co-produced the original Broadway production of Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002 and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 2003, in which she also starred. But she is best known as an Academy Award-winning film actress with credits including Ghost, The Color Purple, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Soapdish, as well as numerous television appearances.
The new musical features a score by Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, whose credits include the musicals Little Shop Of Horrors, Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid, as well as their film incarnations. His big screen work also includes the Disney films Aladdin, Pocahontas and Enchanted. Sister Act has lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, who wrote for long running US television comedy Cheers. Former Disney executive Peter Schneider directs.
The stage production of Sister Act was first seen in California in 2006, going on to play in Atlanta, Georgia.
Currently occupying the London Palladium is another musical featuring singing nuns, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2006 production was the first show to use reality television to cast its original star, Connie Fisher. As yet there has been no official statement confirming that the show will close to make way for Sister Act.