BWW Review: SISTER ACT is Heavenly at White Plains Performing Arts Center
Sister Act at White Plains Performing Arts Center literally blew the roof off the City Center and did not let go! Competing with the movie Star Wars - Rogue One at the movie theater next door, one can only imagine that this musical might have been somewhat of a distraction with such powerful singing.
I never saw the musical on Broadway, which is composed by Alan Menkin and Glenn Slater, but I did see the original movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. It seems that the musical itself could be written as more of a jukebox experience since most of the songs were covers of R & B hits, however, the score is quite catchy and stands alone on its own merits. In a similar way to The Book of Mormon on Broadway, it was hilarious to see such archetype nuns break out in rousing musical ensemble numbers. You kind of have to see it to believe it!
Lindsay Roberts, as Deloris Van Cartier, gives a knockout performance as the disco diva who needs to hide out as a nun after she witnesses a murder. Paulette Oliva, as Mother Superior, gives an oppositional role a great deal of heart. It is not easy to play such an unsympathetic character, but Ms. Oliva is quite multi-layered in her performance. Triona O'Callaghan as the young Sister Mary Robert busts out in a tour de force performance. Her powerhouse vocals with "The Life I Never Led" are truly an 11 o'clock number that is worth the price of admission. Dick Nagle supplied comic relief in the role Monsignor O'Howard.
It certainly helps that the band, led by Stephen Ferri, was so tight and polished, it certainly enabled the cast to let loose and have a good time with their parts. I continue to be impressed with the WPPAC production values in general. Frank Portanova has directed and staged a tight knit cast who utilized the large stage seamlessly. Lexi Fenell Frare choreographed the musical numbers with energy and cohesiveness. The wardrobe supervision by Emily Grace Mays was fun and true to the sparkly "70's" era in which the show took place. I do not think I have ever seen more glitter on one stage in my life. Scenic Design by Gabriel Firestone highlighted stained-glass windows and décor of a church to the Manhattan Nightclub where Curtis played with menace by Tamar Greene and his comrades plot their revenge.
Sister Act at WPPAC is quite a lively experience. The songs such as "Raise your Voice," and "Spread your Love Around" could be stand alone anthems. If you are a fan of the movie and feel good musicals - ones that do not force you to think too hard, than this show is worth checking out during the Holiday Break. Like most musicals these days, do not leave right at the end!
I commend the cast and creative team on a triumphant achievement. These nuns "Take me to Heaven" indeed!
Sister Act will play the White Plains Performing Arts Center December 16, December 17, December 23, December 27, December 28, December 29, December 30, January 6, January 7 at 7:00 pm and December 18, December 22, December 28, January 7 and January 8 at 2:00 pm
White Plains Performing Arts Center is located on the third level of City Center off Mamaroneck Avenue and Main Street in downtown White Plains, minutes from the White Plains Metro North Station. Tickets start at $22. For tickets visit the theatre box office Monday-Friday (11am-6pm), purchase the tickets online at wppac.com or call 914-328-1600. For Group Sales, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cast features Shaunice Alexander, Susan Cohen DeStefano, Joanna Connolly, David Thomas Cronin, Najee Gabay-Knight, Kerri George, Deanna Giulietti, Tamar Greene, Andrew Hendrick, Gerard Lanzerotti, Katelyn Lauria, Steven Liberto, Andrea McCullough, Mary Mondlock, Dick Nagle, Triona O'Callaghan, Daniella Painton, Isaac Saunders, Corinne Scott, Rebecca Skowron, Shawn W. Smith, Christina Tompkins, Cartreze Tucker, Ariana Valdes with Paulette Oliva as Mother Superior and Lindsay Roberts as Deloris Van Cartier.
The creative team features Direction by Frank Portanova, Music Direction by Stephen Ferri, Choreography & Musical Staging by Lexie Fennell Frare, along with Scenic Design by Gabriel Firestone, Lighting Design by Ross Graham, Wardrobe Supervision by Emily Grace Mays and Sound Design by Scott Tunkel.