BWW Reviews: SISTER ACT: THE MUSICAL
On Tuesday night, Sister Act: The Musical opened at Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville. Based on the 1992 movie of the same name, the musical has music by Alan Menkin and lyrics by Glen Slater. If you are a fan of the movie, you'll see many of your favorite moments, along with a few new things to keep you interested. If you don't know the movie, you'll meet a lively cast of characters and get a story full of laughs.
The story begins with Deloris Van Cartier, hungry for a shot to be on stage in her boyfriend's 70s era Philadelphia night club. Instead of getting her shot at stardom, she winds up witnessing a crime and has to hide out to keep from being murdered. Deloris' boyfriend, Curtis Jackson, played by Melvin Abston, has a side job as a major criminal. He even has the henchmen to prove it. One of the most stand out performances of the night, for me, was that of the dimwitted nephew of Curtis Jackson, TJ. Played by Charles Barksdale, TJ is the lovable kind of character that makes you smile each time he's on stage.
Deloris, played by the amazingly talented Ta'Rea Campbell, ends up posing as a nun in a convent with the help of an old friend, Sweaty Eddie, who had become a cop. As she takes on a new life as Sister Mary Clarence, Deloris' transition is.... interesting, to say the least. Mother Superior, played by Hollis Resnik, finds her new charge nothing short of annoying and a test of God. Resnik brings grace and poise to her character, while showing the frustrations that Mother Superior deals with when she feels her convent is changing too much.
Sweaty Eddie, played by Chester Gregory, has some of the most interesting costume changes in the show. Gregory originated the role of Sweaty Eddie on Broadway, and has rejoined the cast for the tour. While there are several interesting costume changes in the show, with several different characters, I advise anyone seeing the show to pay attention to "I Could Be That Guy," which is spectacularly sung by Gregory, and also has one of the best costume changes I've ever seen. Props to Lez Brotherston, who did costume design for the show.
When Mother Superior sends Deloris to join the choir, the entire convent gets turned on its head. "Raise Your Voice" and "Take Me to Heaven" showcased some fantastic choreography (by Anthony Van Laast) and great ensemble performances from the cast.
Another favorite moment of mine in the show came in the form of a song sung by Ashley Moniz , as the shy postulant Mary Robert. "The Life I Never Led" struck a chord with me, and I found myself tearing up as I watched this young girl, who'd done everything "right" in her life, finally break out and want to do something for herself. Though the song was well into the second act of the show, I found it was the first time that Moniz's voice was truly showcased. It was, by far, her shining moment of the night.
This show has a lot of moments that are pure cheese, but that is part of its charm. There is glitter, and sequins, and laughter, but underneath there is a whole lot of heart. If you enjoy comedy, you'll enjoy this show. If you like heartfelt stories, you'll love this show. And if you just like sparkle, you'll be right in your element.