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Bruce Forsyth and Cilla in audience as Whoopi brings 'Sister Act' to West End

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Bruce catches up with Whoopi before the curtain goes up. The American actress produced the theatre version of her hit 1992 comedy Sister Act
 Photo: © PA

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Cilla pays homage to the singing nuns featured in the production
 Photo: © Getty Images

03 JUNE 2009

Two veteran troupers from the British showbusiness scene were in the West End this week to welcome American actress Whoopi Goldberg when she attended the opening night of the musical Sister Act, which she produced.

Bruce Forsyth and Cilla Black joined Elaine Paige and Lord Lloyd-Webber in a standing ovation when the curtain came down on the show, a theatrical version of the American actress' 2003 hit film.

Before taking his seat at the London Palladium Bruce caught up with Whoopi outside the theatre. Afterwards he described the show - which is packed with disco, soul and gospel-influenced numbers by Oscar winning songwriter Alan Menken - as "absolutely tremendous".

Over 17 years have passed since the comic actress starred in the tale of Deloris Van Cartier, a singer who goes into hiding disguised as a nun after witnessing a murder. She reprised the role for the 1993 sequel, Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit.

Taking on the role originally filled by Whoopi is newcomer Patina Miller. Veteran small screen star Patricia Hancock plays Mother Superior – the part portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith in the movie.

While early reviews of the musical were mixed, the performances of its stars received a warm reception from theatre pundits. Bruce was also full of praise for the performers, saying Patricia was "magic" and describing Patina as "one of the most incredible performers I have ever seen".

He added: "She's got a dynamic personality-. Her singing, her moving, her acting are just wonderful."

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