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Published On: Wed, Dec 12th, 2012

Broadway’s ‘Sister Act’ brings the Whoopi Goldberg film to life on stage

The Broadway Show based on the popular 1992 film Sister Act comes to Tampa this week, showing at the Straz Center through Sunday, December 16. (Tickets and more info here)

The first Act opened with excitement as Deloris Van Cartier and her backup singers belted out “Take Me to Heaven”. Van Cartier was played by understudy Rashidra Scott, who completely owned the character.  (Although she was not listed in the playbill there was a separate note in the book.)

She took the stage with back-up singers Michelle, played by Alysha Deslorieux, and Tina, played by Trisha Jeffrey. In her thigh-high purple boots, Deloris auditions for a job in her boyfriend Curtis Jackson’s (Kingsley Leggs) night club. As a salve, both for not spending Christmas with her and for not giving her a job, he gives her a present to show her how much he loves her, but stitched into the blue fur coat was his wife’s name.

The plot stayed light as one of the back-up singers exclaimed “Someone shot a smurf!”.

When Deloris decided she was done with Curtis for good and goes looking him, she accidently witnessed him murdering a man he believed to be an informant.

She runs away, fleeing from his crew, Joey, Pablo and TJ (Todd A Horman, Ernie Pruneda and Charles Barksdale), Deloris seeks a sanctuary.

 To save her from being killed and to keep her safe until she can tell her story to the Judge and help lock Curtis away, Philadelphia police officer Eddie Souther (E. Clayton Cornelious) sends Deloris to a place no one would ever look for her – a convent.

Deloris recognizes the police office as “Sweaty Eddie” from high school and a romantic interest is introduced.

Against Mother Superior’s (Hollis Resnik) wishes Deloris is hidden in her convent. Their duet “Here Within These Wall” expresses Mother Superior’s desire to keep the convent pure and holy while capturing Deloris’ disbelief in the circumstances she finds herself in.

Mother Superior and Deloris in “Sister Act” – photo supplied (Ta’Rea Campbell as Deloris) photo by Joan Marcus

Deloris is given her convent name Sister Mary Clarance, named for the patron saint of prisoners, at a light hearted dinner.

It isn’t long before Deloris is sneaking out of the convent in search of the comforts she is accustomed to, a cheesesteak and a beer. She is followed to the bar across the street by Sister Mary Robert (Lael Van Keuren) and Sister Mary Patrick (Florrie Bagel).

Deloris is almost caught by Joey, Pablo and TJ before escaping back to the convent. In a last ditch effort to keep Deloris in check, Mother Superior restricts her activities to just one thing; singing in the choir.

Deloris takes Sister Mary Lazarus’ (Diane J Findlay) place as choir director and we get to watch as she turns the choir into a show piece which culminates in a reprise of “Take Me To Heaven”.

The second Act opens with “Sunday Morning Fever” which takes the audience through a few weeks in time as the church choir excels and becomes a media center piece.

“Sister Act” photo Joan Marcus

Eddie worries about keeping Deloris safe. Joey, Pablo and TJ discuss ways they will get close to the nuns in “Lady in the Long Black Dress”, although I’m not sure that roses and chocolate are the best ways to a nun’s heart.

As the choir gains more attention, it is announced that the Pope himself will come to mass to see them perform.

Mother Superior questions Gods purpose in “Haven’t Got a Prayer” which ends with a phone call informing her Deloris has been discovered and will be leaving the convent.

The timid Sister Mary Robert is showcased in “The Life I never Led” as she laments a lifetime of things she has never done, including talking back. When Deloris leaves the convent, she gives Mary Robert the same purple boots she came to the convent in.

photo supplied photo by Joan Marcus

Deloris is taken back to Eddie’s place to be kept safe.

Once alone she realizes that the nuns at the convent are her friends and decides that the life of glamor she had been seeking wasn’t as important as her sisters. She returns to the convent to aid them in their performance for the Pope, who made a surprise appearance conducting the musicians in the reprise of “Sister Act” as the nuns, priest and altar boys took the stage in sequenced costumes.

Curtis and his cronies also go to the church in search of Deloris, who ends up being captured and a arrested.

The entire company joined the stage for the final feel good song of the show “Spread the Love Around”.  

The stage presentation keeps the elements of the motion picture, but develops some of the characters more fully than the film did. Resnik and Scott work wonderfully together to bring the story to life. The choreography and costuming was delightful.

photo Joan Marcus

Each stage of the production added a bit more glitz until the end numbers where the cast is swathed in sequins.

Resnik stole the show.

Her performance captured her character’s witty sarcasm and humor while maintaining the dignity expected of a Mother Superior. Her voice was captivating. The other character that truly stood out was that of Sister Mary Patrick. From the moment Bagel took the stage her bubbly actions and over the top mannerisms perfectly personified everything expected without seeming forced.

The fun and “over the top” show was highlighted by the wonderful music which was written by Alan Menken.

Although the musicians were mostly hidden from view and did not take the stage, they deserved the standing ovation the crowd gave as much as the actor and actresses on the stage.

More info for tickets at the Straz Center, click here. To find “Sister Act the Musical” in a different city, go to their site – here.

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  1. Broadway’s ‘Sister Act’ Brings The Whoopi Goldberg Film To Life On Stage | julie wattenberg and her love for the arts says:

    […] Read more here: http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/broadways-sister-act-brings-the-whoopi-goldberg-film-to-life-on-sta… […]

  2. Lastest Lady In Thigh Boots News | Lady Boots says:

    […] Broadway's 'Sister Act' brings the Whoopi Goldberg film to life on stage In her thigh-high purple boots, Deloris auditions for a job in her boyfriend Curtis Jackson's (Kingsley Leggs) night club. As a salve, both for not spending Christmas with her and for not giving her a job, he gives her a present to show her how much he … Read more on The Global Dispatch […]

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