Sister Act at the Orpheum Theatre: Nuns Are Funny

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Sister Act is really, truly, incredibly awesome. I highly suggest seeing it sometime between May 27th and June 1st, when it will wrap up and depart from the Orpheum Theatre downtown. Now, if you know as little as I did before the show started, you probably think Sister Act is about weird, sassy, singing nuns. And you are absolutely correct. It was very strange, glitzy, and extremely disco-y. Although the plot was completely ridiculous, I found it to be an overall delightful experience.

The story begins with Deloris Van Cartier (Ta’rea Campbell), a wannabe pop star who relies on her sketchy agent/lover, Curtis Jackson (Melvin Abston), for all advice about life. That is, until she finds out that he’s married and sees him murder someone. That’s when things get complicated. She enters witness protection with the help of Eddie Souther (Chester Gregory), a kindhearted cop she went to high school with. It should be noted that Gregory’s performance was phenomenal, which isn’t surprising considering he played Eddie in the original Broadway cast She gets placed undercover in a convent to confuse Curtis, but when she becomes responsible for the Christmas choir line-up, her old pop singer instincts kick into high gear and everyone starts belting and being soulful, even the best behaved nuns, Mary Robert (Ashley Moniz) and Mary Patrick (Florrie Bagel). Hilarity, drama, and attempted seduction of nuns ensues.

The lights and set for this show, although extravagant beyond belief, were very well suited to the action. Set pieces and light cues only drew attention when they needed to. I can’t imagine how anyone would go about remodeling a sanctuary during the course one song, but they clearly knew what they were doing and it looked incredible. The costumes, as you would expect, were mostly nuns’ habits. But they were the most heathen nuns I’ve ever seen. As the show progressed, fewer and fewer costumes were glitter-free, and by the end they were more sparkle than cloth. Oh and speaking of costumes, apparently it’s possible to perform a quick change onstage while singing in less than five seconds. Twice. It was flawless. Like seriously mindblowing. You don’t understand.

The music was really amazing, I was constantly impressed by the versatility of the performers’ voices. Every time there was a distinctively belt-y note, it surpassed the previous one, and every one was more and more awe inspiring. The script kept up with the songs, supplying snarky quips and subtly sarcastic dialogue. It trusted the audience to understand the humor and keep up, which kept the entire audience on their toes.

If I had to rank this musical from 1 to 10, it would be a heck yes. See it. I’m sure the religious humor creates some kind of bad karma, but hey. It’s worth it. Sister Act is supreme.