Review: SISTER ACT at Candlelight Music Theatre

Huzzahs to the entire cast and crew.

By: Feb. 27, 2023
Review: SISTER ACT at Candlelight Music Theatre
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Having the privilege of reviewing Candlelight Theatre for years, the once community theatre has morphed into a fully professional troupe. Over the past 3 years, Aisle Say has witnessed productions there that absolutely rival non-equity touring shows staged at The Playhouse.

There are three major factors in this metamorphosis: 1. The quality of the directors/choreographers and 2. The ability to attract talented newcomers with each production. 3. The culture of professionalism that retains the veteran technical crew in tact (lighting, costuming, sound, set design).

The change was most evident with Devon Sinclair and his back-to-back BIG FISH and MEMPHIS. And so it is presently with Director Lauren Gates Vitalo and Choreographer Katie Muniz in SISTER ACT. A boffo, fun-filled production, so beautifully staged and danced and sung and acted. A huge surprise was reading the leading lady Meredith Bell's bio. "This is Meredith's first lead role as a musical theatre actress". NO WAY! She had stage presence, chutzpah and singing ability like a seasoned performer.

Taken from the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, entertainer Deloris (Bell) witnesses a murder. She needs protection from the mobsters so she can later testify at the trial. She finds it in the Queen of Angels Cathedral, where all the nuns have voices like finger nails on chalkboard. "God loves us...even when we sing". The nuns are happy enough when they sing "It's Good To Be A Nun", an hysterical number cataloguing all the reasons one would NOT want to be a nun. Sister Mary Lazarus (Tori Healy) is the quintessential nerd nun. She suggests to the group, "sing in the key you like best".

Deloris is not adjusting well to this spartan life. The Mother Superior (Samantha Riccuhiuti) are at loggerheads. "I'm a postulate"?

Light design of the church by Matthew Kator was reminiscent of shadings, textures and stained glass one might absorb in Notre Dame (once it reopens). His use of multi-colored gobos was breathtaking.

Costumer Timothy Lamont Cannon did his normal excellent job in clothing the troupe. He was especially creative with the nuns when they finally found their 'voices'.

"Raise Your Voice" with Deloris, Mary Lazarus and the nuns was not only inspirational in its majesty but also worldly wise, suggesting that nuns do ask themselves, 'have I made the right choice in life'. Muniz's choreography is not only precise and creative in this number, but rang of "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat" from GUYS AND DOLLS, one of the all time greatest production numbers. "With "Take Me to Heaven", the production number ending Act 1, Muniz may have gotten inspiration from "the Midnight Special" and "Hootenany", variety shows of the music of the 70's. Everyone in the audience was clapping along and having a grand time.

Continuing this cavalcade of dance and music, we switch to hip hoy p with a rousing "Lady In The Long Black Dress" sung by Curtis (Dallas Austin Jimmar), (Joey (Chris Fitting), TJ (Jerrod Ganesh) and Pablo (Dante Bratelli) replete with elastic facial expressions and attitude that left the audience in stitches.

With this show, one did not know to laugh or cry. "The Life I Never Led" by Mother Superior was a show stopper. It perfectly capsulized many of the absurd doxologies of the Catholic church and some of his hypocrisy. The 2nd Act reprise of "Sister Act" sung by the nuns now radically converted into a vestal virgin gospel/hip hop/rock n roll choir is an anthem. It is led by the soaring vocal range of Deloris (Aisle Say was counting - 5 octaves.

Next Up: I Love You, Your Perfect, Now Change - March 18 -April 23 302.475.2313


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