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BWW Review: STAGES St. Louis' Inspirational SISTER ACT

STAGES St. Louis closes their 30th season with SISTER ACT, a musical based on the hit 1992 film of the same name, although this might actually be more entertaining in a lot of ways. Having seen a touring production a few years back, I was a bit concerned about some of the rougher edges that the show presents. But, this regional premier staging focuses on the inspirational aspects, and that lightens the mood considerably, producing delightful results in the process. This is a splendidly rendered production, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The basic plot is pretty much the same as the movie, with Deloris Van Cartier, aspiring singer, breaking away from her overbearing boss, Curtis, but not before she sees him execute one of his crew who he suspected of being a police informant. Enter policeman Eddie Souther, alias "sweaty Eddie", a former schoolmate, who decides to sequester Deloris in a convent. She's slow to take on their "habits", though, and a night time trip to a bar with a couple of the sisters lands in trouble with the Mother Superior. However, the punishment she dishes out, working with their woeful choir, ends up being her salvation.

Dan'Yelle Williamson is a house on fire as Deloris, constantly in motion and laying down a verbal barrage of humorous asides. She also delivers the goods vocally, making this mostly rhythm and blues score shine. Kent Overshown is sharp as the evil Curtis, and he gets a chance to sparkle vocally on the darkly tinged number "When I Find My Baby," which presents us with a list of ways in which he plans to harm Deloris. Corrine Melancon also does exceptional work as the persnickety Mother Superior, and she sums up her feelings during "Here Within These Walls." Curtis Wiley is charming as Eddie Souther, and he gets a wonderful number, "I Could Be That Guy," to express the feelings he holds for Deloris. Standouts among the nuns include: the deadpan Sister Mary Lazarus (Michelle Burdette Elmore), the vivacious Sister Mary Patrick (Sarah Michelle Cuc), and the shy and reserved young apostolic Sister Mary Robert (Leah Berry). Steve Isom also contributes nice work as Monsignor O'Hara.

The direction by Michael Hamilton manages to walk a fine line between some of the darker and lighter shades of comedy and drama that are present in the script and score. The scenic design by James Wolk neatly fits the locale of each scene, and choreographer Stephen Bourneuf does a marvelous job with a very talented and energetic cast. Lisa Campbell Albert creates a joyful noise from them as well with her work as musical director. The score by Alan Menken is memorable and catchy (lyrics by Glenn Slater), and the book (Cheri & Bill Steinkellner with additional material by Douglas Carter Beane) is genuinely amusing.

Don't miss STAGE St. Louis' Sister Act, now playing at the Robert G. Reim auditorium through October 9, 2016.

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From This Author Chris Gibson