Monday, June 2, 2014

A Spunky "Sister Act"

The endearing story of singing nuns rocks the house. 

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theater Trust

What happens when two worlds collide? 

In the best case scenario, the result is something like Sister Act, a story of a witness protection program particiapent who revolutionizes the stuffy nunnery she's brought to. 

Deloris Van Cartier is an aspiring night club singer who has hit rock bottom - truly. When she accidentally witnesses her married lover Curtis killing a man outside of the club she auditions at, she immediately seeks safety from the police. Eddie Souther, one of the policemen and a former high schoool classmate, knows of a quiet nunnery nearby that is the last place Curtis will seek Deloris. 

Disguised as a nun, Deloris tries to adapt to life in the cloister but can't help shaking things up a little bit. She ends up participating in the choir, which sorely lacks soul - and Deloris has that in spades. Deloris' infusions of modern soul and pop sound into the stuffy choir revolutionize the church, bringing the singing nuns fame and a profitable congregation - but also blowing Deloris' cover. 

Ta'Rea Campbell has a voice and aura big enough to fill a church up (and more), and she shines as Deloris. It takes her a while to warm up, but once she's going - watch out. 

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theater Trust.

The chorus of nuns are no slouches either, and the power behind their vocals as they gain confidence is breathtaking. Slight Ashley Moniz, playing novice Mary Robert, is particularly fabulous on the solo "Life I Never Led." Moniz has a rock 'em sock 'em voice packed in a tiny frame, and she's fun to watch. As Mother Superior, Hollis Resnik shows the sorrow of life as a modern day nun, and her musicality conveys a deep yearning for peace and simplicity.

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theater Trust.
Sister Act's biggest surprise though, has to lie in Chester Gregory as Eddie Souther. Gregory plays Souther's loveable awkwardness to no end, only to unleash a powerhouse voice that is the epitome of soul on his standout "I Could Be That Guy." Keep an eye on him - he's a star. 

On its face, Sister Act is a fun show with great music that lets you romp through church in a way real life would never allow. But there is so much more to be found here - finding quiet in the busyness of modern life; proving that although differences are important - be they racial, musical, or otherwise - they are less important than what we have in common; and most of all, that there is nothing more meaningful in life than loving people and expressing it.