BWW Reviews: SISTER ACT's Diva Nuns Steal the Show
Fans of the film starring Whoppi Goldberg may take issue with the musical version of SISTER ACT but this Broadway version is not the same show. But I don't think they will. The story and characters are the same but it has a new score and script that take it to Philadelphia, Pa., and back in time to the 1970s where disco rules. And the pure spirit of the cast will surely rouse anyone in the congregation and cast aside any memories of the movie that get in the way.
The heart and dancing sole of this musical are the diva nuns who sing the catchy tunes in sequinned habits under a sparkling Virgin Mary. Endlessly cute and often hilarious, they steal the stage. Sister Mary Patrick (Florrie Bagel) and Sister Mary Lazurus (Roberta B Wall) have one-liners and Catholic jokes galore. All in good, clean fun and with song lyrics that take the disco tunes right into the sanctuary in a fitting way. Highlight of their performances is the anthem, "Take Me to Heaven," that closes Act I.
Deloris Van Cartier, played by Ta'Rea Campbell, like the show itself, starts on less than solid ground but once the show hits its stride, both loosen up and go for the ride. Solid vocals and a lot of attitude make Campbell enjoyable to watch and her lead is strong but she blends into the chorus of nuns and shares the glory with them.
The rag-tag bunch of hoodlums and cops round out the cast, which are all at their best when they're all-out corny. "Sweaty Eddie," played by Chester Gregory, is also slow to start. Then when he does a fantasy sequence with a group of vagrants who surround him and help him reveal his 70s, white disco suit in "I Could Be That Guy," he finds the charm and pulls the audience in.
The second act bogs a bit when the ballads come along but the show picks back up and moves when the nuns take the pulpit for each musical number.
Straight-woman for the entire corny crew is Mother-Superior (Hollis Resnick). Grounding the show and reminding us that all the glory goes to the man upstairs, Resnick is a solid presence. The Monsignor (Richard Pruitt) is pretty hilarious with his Barry White bass, too.
All in all, this show is just good, clean fun for the whole family. The jokes are cute and the violence is mild (one thug is murdered at the beginning, setting off the turn of events that bring Deloris to the convent), so the kids will be OK coming along.
Shows at Minneapolis' Orpheum run through June 1, 2014. Tickets are available at www.hennepintheatretrust.org.
Pictured: The cast of SISTER ACT. Photo by Joan Marcus.