note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Richard Pacheco
Theatre by the Sea puts together an impressive final summer offering with the rousing and spirited “Sister Act” propelled by some amazing voices, spirited choreography and overall impressive talent. It is a sheer delight sure to please.
It is written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and music by Alan Menken. It is based on the hit 1992 film comedy of the same name which starred Whoopi Goldberg.
The singing here is simply dazzling. One of the biggest scores of the night is the talented Jeannette Bayardelle as Deloris Van Cartier, Van Cartier is a disco diva singing star wannabe who witnesses a murder by her married mob boyfriend and goes on the run to testify against him and ends up hiding in a convent The Holy Order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith. She has a killer voice, full of power and finesse, rich in range and raw energy. She was the singing lead in “The Color Purple” on Broadway and it shows. She is simply magnificent in songs like “Take me to Heaven” or “Sister Act” and all the songs she sings with the nuns.
While hiding out in the convent she takes the worst choir in the world and molds them into a powerhouse of singing energy and presence. Even though the church was in danger of closing this act brings people in, just to hear them, not so much for the religion itself. It brings the church back from the brink of closing to financially solvent. And popular.
Her adversary at the convent is the very stalwart, strict and devout Mother Superior played with zest and conviction by the wonderful Ellen Harvey. She is the epitome of a Mother Superior, authoritarian yet with a kindness. What a great voice which she uses to great effect in “Here Within These Walls” a duet with Deloris and “I Haven’t Got a Prayer” was well as the songs sung with the nuns.
The meek always obedient nun Sister Mary Roberts is played with flair and power by Lael Van Keuren. She packs a powerful voice in her petite body.
There is the gangster with flair and sass played with such skill and vitality by Philip Michael Baskerville as Curtis Jackson. He is smooth, sleek and menacing with a terrific voice. He shines in “When I Find my Baby” and its reprieve.
Tom Gleadow who has shown up all summer in Theatre by the Sea productions is back again as Monsignor O’Hara. He is a pleasure in the role full of poise and presence.
Add to the mix a host of other extremely talented people and the entire event shines and delights. There is a lot of Broadway talent here and the support is just as impressive.
Directed and choreographed by artistic director Kevin P. Hill it is a rousing good time, sparked by an phenomenal cast that always gives their all. The choreography is smart and stylish, full of energy and most of all fun. Kyle Dixon’s scenic designs once again score with simplicity and style. The musical direction by Jesse Warkenton is superb.
This is a fun, amazing production you won’t want to miss.