Sunday, December 23, 2012

A "Sister Act" for the Holidays


By Skip Sheffield

Can I get an amen?
“Sister Act” is one of those unexpected little blessings that sometimes come in the holiday season. The singing, swinging nun extravaganza runs through Dec. 30 at Broward Center for the Arts.
“Sister Act” is based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith and Kathy Najimy. For the 2011 Broadway musical version, which is produced by Whoopi Goldberg, the setting has been moved from Reno, Nevada to South Philadelphia. Additional music has been created by Alan Menkin (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Mermaid”) with lyrics by Glenn Slater (“Little Mermaid”). The time has been moved back to the peak of the 1980s disco area, which enables scenic designer (Klara Zieglerova) and costume designer Liz Brotherston to have some glittery, over-the-top fun.
The highly unlikely story has aspiring disco star Deloris Van Cartier (Ta’Rea Campbell) accidentally witness a mob execution.
Deloris flees to her friend “Sweaty Eddie” Souther (E. Clayton Cornelious), who happens to be a police officer.
Eddie long harbored a crush on Deloris and he is protective of her, so he urges her to hide in safety at the local convent, Our Queen of Angels. Deloris assumes the guise of a young nun, which allows for some sight and verbal gags.
The titular head of the convent is genial Monsignor O’Hara (Richard Pruitt), but the real power is with the Mother Superior, a stern, upright character played by Hollis Resnik. There is an immediate clash of wills, and it gets worse when Deloris takes over leadership of the convent choir and teaches the women some decidedly secular moves.
It’s all an excuse to stage some ever more elaborate musical numbers, backed by a 14-piece orchestra in the pit. There are some outstanding performers, starting with Ta’Rea Campbell, a woman with a voice more clear and powerful than Whoopi could ever hope for. Clayton Cornelious is an excellent singer with good dance moves and one truly amazing costume change for his showpiece number, “I Could Be That Guy.”
There is a tuneful, slinky male trio (Todd A. Horman, Ernie Pruenda and Charles Barksdale) that shows off slick dances moves behind bad guy Curtis Jackson (Kingsley Leggs).
The element of surprise is well-played by the casting of original Broadway cast member Lael Van Keuren as the shy youngest novice, Sister Mary Robert. We’ll just say she doesn’t remain meek for long.
“Sister Act” is the kind of show that builds to an inevitable grand finale, which really does “Spread the Love Around.”
You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to appreciate the rah-rah show biz feel-good glitz of “Sister Act.”
Tickets are $39.50-$79.50 and may be reserved by calling 954-462-0222 or online at

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