- “Sister Act” is front and center as part of the Broadway show series at
the Marcus Center of the Performing Arts. Based on the Whoopi Goldberg 1992
movie of the same name, the musical won its share of awards in 2011 and has now
launched an extensive traveling show across the United States.
Milwaukee showing opened on Tuesday night and runs through Sunday, with two
shows on Saturday and Sunday. If you want an entertaining mix of crime and the
cloister or the clash of opposing worlds, this production fits the bill.
basic premise involves a “wannabe” singer, Deloris Van Cartier, and her
involvement with a mobster, Curtis Jackson, who has some pull in the world of
entertainment. When she sees him kill someone whom he suspects of
“snitching,” she decides to report him, whereupon she is given protection in
a convent while waiting for the trial where she can testify against him. The mix
of the sexy, ambitious, worldly Deloris and the asceticism of convent life is
the basis of much of the humor and irony of the story. Where she does end up
making a connection with the nuns is in the field of music, where her talent and
enthusiasm collide with their dismal choir and their repressive lifestyle.
long their lively sound attracts parishioners back to the failing church, which
was soon to be sold to an antique dealer interested in Gothic architecture. Also
in the process of their experience together, both the nuns and Deloris are
transformed into richer human beings, and, of course, the bad guys are caught,
and Deloris finds her true love in an old high school buddy who coincidentally
is the cop she confessed to regarding Curtis’ crime. Ah, how nicely things fit
together in musicals.
makes the show so appealing is the fascination many people have with nuns, whom
they see as another altogether mysterious species. Then to witness the effect
Deloris has on them and the effect the nuns have on Deloris is also
heartwarming. The character of Mother Superior is the last bastion of a very
conservative version of convent life and all that that implies. She, too,
eventually rises to the challenge of change, albeit reluctantly.
set design and lighting were impressive, especially all the play on stained
glass windows (Klara Zieglerova and Natasha Katz respectively), and the
orchestra under the direction of Brent-Alan Huffman was superb. Costuming by Lez
Brotherston was also delightful, especially in the closing number when they
performed for the pontiff.
standouts in the cast were Ta’rea Campbell as the powerful, troubled Deloris;
E. Clayton Cornelious as Sweaty Eddie, the dreamer; Hollis Resnik as the
conflicted Mother Superior, Lael Van Keuren as the ambivalent Mary Robert, the
postulant; and Florrie Bagel as the exuberant Sister Mary Patrick.
best solos and ensemble numbers included “Take Me to Heaven” (Deloris and
ensemble), “I Could Be That Guy” (Eddie), “The Life I Never Led” (Mary
Robert), and “Haven’t Got a Prayer” (Mother Superior).
audience loved the show and leaped to their feet when it ended. It might
stereotype nuns a bit, and draw the lines between good and evil too stringently,
but the overall feeling is good, and it is obviously a hit that most people will
Act” runs through Sunday at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N.
Water St., Milwaukee. For tickets, call 414-273-7121 or visit www.marcuscenter.org.