WBTs Sister Act Puts the Fun into Nun

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 By: Margaret Carey Source: Brewster's Hamlet Hub

Lift your spirits at Westchester Broadway Theatre’s spring musical production of Sister Act. Sister Act is based on the 1992 hit Comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. Unlike the movie, the play is based in 1970’s Philadelphia instead of 1990’s San Francisco and Las Vegas. Some of the characters have been modified for the stage adaptation and are given the opportunity to burst into song – even the bad guys!

Lyricist Glenn Slater and Oscar and Tony-winning composer Alan Menken (Disney’s Aladdin and Beauty and The Beast, Newsies, Enchanted) have written a new score for the musical which embracing the music of the 1970s. The new score evokes the styles of top vocalists of the era like Barry White, the Bee Gees, Donna Ross and Donna Summer. If Studio 54 and St. Patrick’s Cathedral had a child – this would be it!

The astounding, Zuri Washington immaculately plays Deloris Van Cartier, a disco diva, whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Zuri’s stellar vocals hit the mark on every one of her numbers including Take Me to Heaven, Fabulous, Baby! and Sister Act. Deloris is forced upon Mother Superior (Mary Jo McConnell) in an attempt to hide from her murderous mobster boyfriend. From their first meeting, the dynamic between Deloris and Mother Superior was intense. Mary Jo’s emotional songs, Here Within These Walls and Haven’t Got a Prayer, express the inner turmoil Mother Superior must face in the changing times. Both women come from very different backgrounds but are both strong and formidable. As the musical progresses, they both learn to adapt and adjust to a new way of thinking and create a bond with each other without sacrificing an ounce of their individual bravado. Zuri and Mary Jo bring a genuine warmth to their characters which gives their characters more depth and enriches the storyline.

The cantankerous Sister Mary Lazarus is brought back to life (that’s a joke for Catholics out there) by the hysterical comic talent of Sandy Rosenberg. Her sharp wit and hip-hopping rap provide great comic relief especially in some of the deeper moments in the musical. Katelyn Lauria plays the timid novitiate Sister Mary Patrick who discovers her soulful power with the help of Deloris and some self-reflection in her beautiful rendition of The Life I Never Led.

Danny Wilfred as cop Eddie Souther, charms Deloris, his high school crush, while trying to protect her. The trio of thugs played by Corben Williams (TJ), Jayson Elliott (Joey), and Mike D’Amico (Pablo), get their groove on in Lady in the Long Black Dress. These characters don’t know a thing about women but they sure know how to make you laugh!

Rounding out this energetic cast are Lani Corson (Sister Mary Robert), Ken Jennings (Monsignor O’Hara), Philip Michael Baskerville (Curtis Shank), Melanie Burg, Joanna Caruso, Sincee Daniels, Hannah Eakin, Hector Flores Jr., Keyonna Knight, Jose Plaza,  T. Shyvonne Stewart, Jessi St. George, Stephanie Sable, Karen Webb.

One of the key components of the show is the chorus of nuns. They blend beautifully together – well after they intentionally sing horribly off-key, off-tempo and off-pitch before Sr. Mary Clarence aka Deloris gets her purple stiletto boots on them. Although the Catholic Church wishes their nuns were as young as this cast, we certainly can grant them forgiveness. Their interplay, camaraderie, and devotion to each other were unmistakable in their songs It’s Good to be a Nun, Raise Your Voice, and Bless Our Show.

Directed & Choreographed by Donna Drake. The Musical Director is Bob Bray; Associate Choreographer is Rhonda Miller. Set Design by Steve Loftus, Lighting Design by Andrew Gmoser, Sound Design by Mark Zuckerman. The Costume Coordinator is Heather Carey, Wig/Hair Design by Gerard Kelly, the Production Stage Manager is Victor Lukas, the Assistant Stage Manager is Duane McDevitt and Properties are by Grumpy’s Props. Lisa Tiso is the Associate Producer. Musicians include John Bowen, James Mack, Jordan Janez, Brian Uhl, Steven Bleifuss and Wayne Tice.

Brace yourself for the uplifting spectacular closing number extravaganza, Spread the Love Around. The full cast number is complete with glitz, glamor and a disco ball. So get out your platforms or your leisure suit and boogie on down to the WBT for their production of Sister Act that runs until July 1, 2018.