Interview with Sandra Marvin, Sister Act The Musical

Curve has a excellent programme of theatre for Autumn/Winter 2022. One of the highlights is the eagerly anticipated brand-new production of the Broadway and UK smash hit musical Sister Act direct from London.

Sister Act is Fabulous, Baby! Not only does it have a catchy soundtrack and boosts the reputation of the highly respectful 1992 film, but the cast are quite something. TV and West End legend Lesley Joseph and West End sensation Lizzie Bea, leading the cast as Deloris is local gem Sandra Marvin. Our Emmie Newitt caught up with Sandra to not only chat about the show but about the memories of growing up in Leicester.

Sister Act is currently receiving lots of praise in London. What it is like to be a part of the UK Tour after that success?

I’m so excited. So let me explain. It’s quite an unusual set up in that I’ve already performed in it. We opened for two weeks in Manchester first before London. I also know what regional audiences are like and the Manchester audience went crazy for it. They loved it. They were up on their feet, they were laughing out loud.

“I can’t wait to bring this around the regional theatres because I just think that the audiences appreciate when a good show comes to their vicinity rather than always having to go into the West End for it.”

Sandra Marvin

And the quality of this one, it’s West End standard. It’s such a fun show. They’ve taken so much time and care to recreate it and it’s just so joyous and full of fun.

Absoutely! It was also put on the back burner because of the pandemic. So do you think this production has come back with a bang in response to that?

Oh, yes and then some! It really has because I guess also theatre was one of the big things, one of the big industries that got hit. Everyone got hit during the pandemic. But we generally wasn’t sure how theatre would come back, whether we’d be able to come back. The whole industry ground to a halt for that period of time. So we ourselves have such a gratitude to be back and be able to share the love, the joy. And I really feel on the back on what’s going on in the world at the moment and what we’ve all been through, that’s what we need. That’s definitely what’s in our hearts. We want to get out there and bring the joy out and make people smile.

You also worked on Waitress which shared a similar journey. So looking at your role in Sister Act, are there similarities between these two women? Becky was such a big character in Waitress and now you are taking on Deloris?

They are very different characters in that Becky’s very grounded. She knows what she knows. She’s just very grounded and dry. Deloris is hungry for life still. She’s hungry for life. She’s quick witted, she’s joyous. Both of them totally unapologetic. But the actual feel of both of the characters to play is so different.

“I love playing Deloris. I love her mischief. A lot of my influences have come from the mischief and the comedy of Whoopi.”

Sandra Marvin

Obviously, you have to go back to the original, especially when it’s by such an icon as Whoopi Goldberg in that film. She was amazing, but she was so funny and there was a mischief and naughtiness about her. So I really play into that side of it. But on both of those shows, again, it is very much about female empowerment. Being true to yourself, sisterhood and community. Both of them are those things that are very important. And at the heart of both those messages, finding your community, being part of a community, loving your neighbour, helping other people and being there for other people and putting yourself out for other people, that’s very key to share.

And with Deloris’ character have you drawn on any personal emotions and experiences to portray her?

It’s funny because I’d say of all the roles that I’ve done, I’ve been inspired by them in one way or another. And one of the things that I love about Deloris is that she’s unapologetically herself. And that’s a lot.

One of the moments, though that always moves me when I perform it is a moment where I won’t give too much away. But I’ll say that the nuns stand up for her in the biggest way that anyone could ever put themselves forward, to stand up and sacrifice themselves with someone else. It does always move me. It’s the idea that someone who doesn’t know for ages, you’ve not known them for forever, or they’re not family, just for the good of their own hearts. They stand up and do the right thing. They put themselves in harm’s way to save someone else. That always moves me. And I’ve seen it a couple of times in my life.

Sandra, how would you describe Sister Act in one word. Also, tell us a little bit about it? Because I think a lot of people will probably come into this show comparing it to the film. How can you describe this to audiences?

If I’m honest, I’d say one word is joyous. It’s heartfelt and funny. That’s three words. You got tripe amount for your money there!

The story is the same as the film. Deloris is still that singer in our production. She wants to be a professional singer. Her partner, Curtis, she’s auditioning for him and unfortunately, she witnesses a crime. She goes on the run and ends up being hidden by the local policeman, Eddie. He hides her in a convent. The bulk of the story is very much about her hiding away from Curtis who wants to kill her now before she grasses him up to the police.

This strong, big personality, unapologetic, hip, street wise, should singer, who’s used to the pubs and the clubs and everything in the 70s. She’s now been thrust into a quiet, regimented and uniformed nunnery. And it’s about the clash, the merging of these two worlds and the acceptance.

What is even better is that you are performing at Curve. Leicester is important to you as its your hometown so what is it like to come back home?

It’s immense. I was there with Waitress earlier in the year. When I come back, huge memories come back of nine-year old me wondering whether I could ever do this as a professional job. I like being on stage, it’s a big world. I always remember nine year old me. I’m so grateful to be able to stand there and do what I love and what I work so hard and commit to. It’s a dream, it’s brilliant.

“The Leicester community love their theatre. Every time I’ve been here, they love their theatre. Even from when I was young and it was the Haymarket. The theatre in Curve is key.”

Sandra Marvin
When you come to Leicester, are there any places you always come to visit?

I always like to visit the cathedral. I was in the choir at the cathedral from nine to about 16. There’s a little sweetie shop around the corner that I used to go as a nine year old and get my little bag of cola bottles there before we went in for choir practice. I also loved where Silver Arcade used to be, which is a bit more bougie now! I used to get my silver jewellery from a place around there but it’s not there anymore. I do enjoy going around my old haunts – I just can’t believe how much it’s changed though.

So finally, one more question for you Sandra. Why should people come and see Sister Act in October at Curve?

Because it’s just a brilliant show. If you love the film, you’re going to get everything in the film and then some. That’s what I’d say, the live experience. Take whatever was in the film and then it gives you so much more energy. It’s on fire. Sister Act’s energy on stage is going to jump out of the stage into your heat. It’ll have it you up on your feet! You’ll be laughing and crying along with all of us! So it’s such a great show. I’m so grateful to be a part of it. It’s a great show.

Sister Act performs at Curve from 17-29 October. Book your tickets now.

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