Review: A DIVINE SISTER ACT at Actors Conservatory Theatre

The show will make a believer out of you!

By: Nov. 17, 2023
Review: A DIVINE SISTER ACT at Actors Conservatory Theatre

Actors Conservatory Theatre brings a delightfully entertaining production to Bronxville’s Taylor Hall. Based on the hilarious 1992 hit film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act, received five Tony Award nominations in 2011 including Best Musical.

Sister Act tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, an aspiring 1970s disco diva performing in her gangster boyfriend’s nightclub. She, by chance, witnesses him committing a murder and finds herself on the run. Organized by Eddie Souther, a good, “steady” cop, and an old school chum, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found, a convent. What could possibly go wrong when the loud, brash, sequin-adorned Deloris joins the nuns of Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow? Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the strict lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior.

Using her unequaled disco moves and singing talents, she aspires to improve the nuns’ discordant choir. She molds the choir into a show-stopping powerhouse that transforms the down-and-out church into a veritable temple of song. She breathes new life into the church and community. Working with these women, she discovers a sense of her own value as a human being and how she can change others’ lives and be changed by them. When she is outed and the thugs are in pursuit, she must decide where her allegiance lies; whether to save herself or stand with the sisters to face the bad guys. Together, Deloris and the nuns discover what sisterhood is, and she realizes that she’s part of a fabulous ‘'sister act.’”

There are lots of strong characters and a great blend of voices that make this show a must-see.
Bria Hydrick as Delores, brings an abundance of talent, sass, and confidence to the role. Her amazing voice, smart comic timing, and magnetic stage presence are a supreme delight. She gloriously belts out such favorites as, “Take Me to Heaven”, “Fabulous Baby” and “Raise Your Voice”.
Her backup singers who play other roles throughout the show were the perfect compliment in creating smooth three-part harmonies. Emilie Goodrich plays Michelle, and Delaney Eaves plays Tina, and they rocked it!

Julie Majchrzyk’s Mother Superior is the quintessential embodiment of the weary nun in charge. She gets the best punchlines and thanks to her great grasp of comedy, she handles them like a pro. Her impressive singing abilities are evident in her rendition of “I Haven’t Got a Prayer." It sends shivers down the spine. “Here Within These Walls” is a touching testament to the comfort she finds in the sanctity of the Church. She commands the stage.
As an ensemble, the nuns are fantastic; Every one of them has a terrific voice and the degree of comedic timing is impressive! Their outstanding harmonies and their dance routines are carried out with style and funk. Bravi to all!
In the ensemble are, Laura Donaldson-Inzeo, Delaney Eaves, Emilie Goodrich, Wendy Kaufman Harper, Kate Marino, Leslie Messina, Maggie O’Donoghue, Carmela Sirico, and Lori Skjeveland.

Tina D’Amato plays Sister Mary Lazarus. She enthralls us with her great voice and her hilarious characterization. She is a first-rate rapper to boot!

Snappy Sister Mary Patrick played by Amy Morris is an absolute delight to watch holding on firmly to her funny character throughout. And she can belt with the best of them.

Francesca Ricigliano plays ‘postulant’ Sister Mary Robert, a shrinking violet, but don’t be fooled by her feigned timidity. She has a strong voice with a wonderful tone and intonation. She is such a delight. A standout moment in the show is when she lets that big voice loose during her big number, “The Life I Never Led.”

Kat Robertson, as Sister Mary Martin of Tours is funny even when she’s just standing still. And Maryann Mallozzi is a true gem as Sister Mary Theresa.

Amin Fuson radiates kindness as Eddie. He is truly a treat to watch as his character gains courage and takes control. We are all rooting for him to win Deloris’ heart.

As Deloris’ mobster lover, Chris Manetakis is fittingly scary as Curtis. His song, “When I Find My Baby” is hilariously creepy! He is thoroughly convincing as the bad guy and delivers a top-notch performance.

Tommy Lloyd is endearing as Monsignor O’Hara, complete with an Irish brogue.

Curtis’ three henchmen have been written to be more three stooges-like than dangerous. They lend a lot of comic relief that doesn’t hide the big talents on display. All three have very good voices. They have some hilarious songs and choreography, harmonies, falsetto, and channel an Osmonds vibe. Javier Fernandez is very funny as Pablo and has some super slick moves, Anthony Malchar is terrific and his Joey is imbued with hilarious facial expressions and physicality. Jacob Ruiz is delightfully stupid as TJ.

Mike Sedia and Tom Weppler appear as several characters and ubiquitously bring humor and delight!

The production staff has created a gorgeous show. All aspects of the production are flawlessly integrated by an experienced director. Armand Paganelli appreciates the very pulse of a musical that is aimed to uplift its audience with an ensemble that works hard. He has built a show that clips right along, filled with terrific staging, great pacing, and emotional connections between the characters.

The excellent band never missed a beat, yet the sound was never allowed to drown out the singers. The musicians are led by gifted musical director, Stephen Ferri, who handles the 70s-inspired score with skill and grace.
Scenic Designers Brian Crowley and Robin Lloyd have designed a wonderful set that segues nicely from nightclub to police station to church and bar with quick set changes.

Choreographed by Janice Paganelli, the dancing throughout was exhilarating, The choreography is everything you would expect from a comedy set in the 1970s. Lots of Fun!

The show is enhanced by a great variety of sparkling costumes. The setting is the 1970’s which makes the costumes fun and flashy. Costume design is by the skilled Jessica Picard.

Beautifully balanced Sound design by Daniel Bria and inspired lighting design by Keira Ferguson created the theatre magic needed to transport us to another time and place.

Stage Managers Julia LaVerde and Anna Prestopino and their busy crew kept the show running meticulously and flawlessly.

This was a fabulous show, packed with energy and vitality, accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack played by a superb orchestra. So, go get your religion on, regardless of your denomination, this production of “Sister Act” will make a believer out of you.

 Featuring: Sally Barnes, Tina D’Amato, Laura Donaldson-Inzeo, Delaney Eaves, Javier Fernandez, Emilie Goodrich, Wendy Kaufman Harper, Bria Hydrick, Tommy Lloyd, Julie Majchrzyk, Anthony Malchar, MaryAnn Mallozzi, Chris Manetakis, Kate Marino, Leslie Messina, Amy Morris, Maggie O’Donoghue, Francesca Ricigliano, Kat Robertson, Jacob Ruiz, Mike Sedia, Carmela Sirico, Lori Skjeveland, Tom Weppler
Sister Act includes music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slate, and is from a book by Cherie Steinkellner & Bill Steinkellner. Featuring original music by Tony and eight-time Oscar winner, Alan Menken

Remaining Performances: Thursday, November 16, 7:30 pm, Friday, November 17, 7:30 pm, Saturday, November 18, 7:30 pm, Sunday, November 19, 2:00 pm
Taylor Hall in Christ Church, Bronxville, NY
Tickets are $30 for adults, and $27 for seniors, vets, and students.

Info & Tickets: www.ACTSHOWS.ORG

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From This Author - Pia Haas

Pia Haas reviews Arts events for Local publications. She has been involved in Theatre for over 40 years as a  Performer/Director/ Artistic Director/Technicnician/ of Academic, Community, off-Broa... Pia Haas">(read more about this author)


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