Thursday's FRIDAY 5 (+1): The Larry Keeton Theatre's SISTER ACT Opens Tonight
Sister Act the Musical - the story of lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier, who goes on the lam after witnessing a mob-style murder, taking refuge in a Philadelphia convent, where her irreverent ways and showbiz bravado make her stick out among all the other nuns like a fancy woman gone to church after years of mischief-making - opens tonight at The Larry Keeton Theatre, running through April 13.
Directed by Kevin Raymond and produced by TLKT artistic director Jamie London, Sister Act the Musical has proven to be mighty popular among local theater companies and on tour and Raymond, London and company are bringing their own unique vision to the stage with their production that stars Kristina Nichole James, Omar Lagudali, Susan Walsworth, Danielle Threet, Stephanie Hale Williams, David Shaw and a cast of other local favorites.
With the excitement of opening night and the histrionics of tech week to fuel them, Kristina Nichole James (who plays Deloris) and her castmates Susan Walsworth and Stephanie Hale Williams managed to find time in their hectic schedules to answer our questions and to offer some background information on themselves - along with some compelling reasons you should make your reservations for the show - in today's version of the Friday 5 (+1):
Kristina Nichole James
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? We didn't have a local theatre anywhere near Harristown, Illinois, so I didn't grow up going to see shows. All live entertainment was provided by our high school. That being said, my first theatre experience was probably Grease! It was the first time I hit the stage as an actress rather than an alto in the choir.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Texting my roommate so I know where she's sitting in the audience. She's never missed a show and is really an integral part of my support system.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? My most memorable "show must go on moment" was definitely in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I was playing Florika (Quadimodo's mother) and there was a moment in the opening scene where I had to effectively rub up against Frollo. One night, a few strands from my beautiful long wig of curls wrapped around Frollo's buttons. Imagine the horror of being pushed away by the villain, only to find that he is wearing your wig as a chest piece! I believe the cast affectionately dubbed that scene as "wig snatch" for the remaining run of the show.
What's your dream role? My dream role is Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. I love when a lead role allows you to be your own comedic relief. Getting to make people laugh is a treat!
Who's your theatrical crush? Gavin Creel has been my theatrical crush ever since I saw him play Bill in the 2003 Eloise Christmas movie with Julie Andrews. I didn't find out that he was a Broadway performer until my college years, and I thought, "Oh...that definitely makes sense."
Why should people come see Sister Act? People should come see Sister Act because it is pure brilliance. This story is set in the 70s and yet it remains widely relevant. Walking through Deloris' journey of transformation touches your heart. One of my favorite song lyrics from the show is "Gotta get to a place where I finally know I belong. Gotta get to a place where at last I'll be loved and be needed." I think everyone is looking for that on some level.
Stephanie Hale Williams
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? If you mean my first time I got to attend a play, then my earliest, most memorable experience was seeing Fiddler on the Roof at TPAC as a high school student. It was so moving, I asked for the movie on VHS for Christmas that year and watched it over and over. It is still one of my favorite musicals of all time!
If you mean what was my first opportunity to participate as a cast member, then I would say as a high school student, I was cast as Mrs. Webb in Our Town. I didn't have a real appreciation for the story that was being told, but I enjoyed the spotlight! As an adult, I was given the opportunity to return to my high school and play Mrs. Webb again. I found that role to be quite difficult to play since I had a real-life daughter who was the same age as Mrs. Webb's Emily. Funny how time and experience change the way you interpret a character.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I love to get completely costumed and then go sit in the wings for a while before the show starts. I love listening to the murmuring crowd and feeling their excitement about the show.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I haven't had one of those yet - I hope it doesn't happen in this show!
What's your dream role? My dream role would be Annie's Mrs. Hannigan. She is such a different person than I am, I think it would be a lot of fun to get inside her head and see what her life is like inside that orphanage. She seems so much more miserable and alone than the girls in her care and is so desperate to find a way out.
Who's your theatrical crush? I may have to get back to you - how do you choose?
Why should people come see Sister Act? This show is a wonderful example of the development of friendship and compassion between people who are so vastly different from each other. It is funny and clever - but those moments when you see the connection between the characters are quite touching.
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My sophomore year of high school in a production of Bye, Bye Birdie.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I really don't have a pre-show ritual, but I'm one of those people who waits until the last minute to get into costume.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I was working on a cruise ship in a show under the direction of none other than Sister Act director Kevin Raymond (29 years ago) and during a Broadway section we would do a "Rockette-style" kick line. One night my planted foot slipped, and I landed on my rear, spread eagle, center stage. I just jumped up and kept going, through lots of laughter!
What's your dream role? I have several but my top two are Miss Hannigan in Annie and Momma Morton in Chicago.
Why should people come see Sister Act? It's a great story. It's not only funny, which everyone expects, but it's also very touching. The sisterhood that develops between Deloris (Sister Mary Clarence) and the nuns is beautiful. It's a good time had by all!