It’s 1977, the height of the disco era. Deloris van Cartier, aka Delores Carter, is an aspiring Philadelphia singer with a big voice and even bigger personality. She also has a big dream to make it in show business. But she has monumentally bad taste in men. And Curtis is not just the he-doesn’t-pay-attention-to-me kind of bad paramour. He’s more along the lines of he-accidentally-gives-me-his-wife’s-Christmas-present-and-then-I-walk-in-on-him-wasting-a-guy kind of bad.
Deloris, played gloriously by Heather Hepburn, is the only witness to Curtis’ (Tanre Franklin) crime, so she’s on the run. She goes to the police, only to encounter a cop named Eddie Souther (Josh Woodard), a guy from high school who had a terrible crush on her. But Eddie was known as Sweaty Eddie back in the day, so the reunion doesn’t go so well for him initially. Lucky for Deloris he’s got a heart of gold, because it’s his job to protect her until the trial. The police come up with the cockamamie idea to hide Deloris in a convent. It’s a good idea in that it would be the last place anyone would expect this brassy broad to be. But it’s monumentally bad because she is just too much woman to be contained by the beleaguered Mother Superior, played beautifully by Barbara Full.
And that’s when the real fun of Sister Act: The Musical begins. In the hopes of keeping her out of trouble, the Mother Superior puts Deloris in charge of what might be the worst convent choir in the history of ever. But it turns out all they need is some enthusiasm and instruction, and Deloris is just the woman for the job.
People are going to get the impression I’m on the Guild’s payroll because I keep saying this, but they have put on another fantastic production. Hepburn is simply amazing. The cast is large and everyone does a stellar job, but, like many shows, a weak lead would make it fall on its face. Hepburn is anything but weak. And, as I said, the rest of the cast is uniformly strong. There literally isn’t a weak link in the chain. Even the tiny parts are played with great aplomb.
Threatening to steal the show are Curtis’ lamebrained henchmen, played hilariously by Dennis Craig, Shawn Price, and Anthony Fontino. The number in which they compare how they would try to seduce a nun, while just plain inappropriate, was gut-achingly funny, both in terms of the clever writing and also the over-the-top performances.
Another relatively minor role played with great zeal was Bill Knotts’ Monsignor O’Hara. He starts out positively wooden and I have to admit I thought I was going to be disappointed, especially since I’ve so enjoyed his performances in the past. But it was all a ploy. By the end of the show, he was the very embodiment of Elvis in priest’s robes. My companion and I agreed that he actually did come close to stealing the show right out from under Ms. Hepburn’s nose. Almost. But not quite.
Sister Act opens this Friday, November 10, with subsequent performances on the 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 24th and 25th. On Fridays and Saturdays, the curtain goes up at 8:00pm. On the 12th, it all begins at 2:30, but the Sunday performance on the 19th kicks off at 6:30pm. We were told tickets are flying out the doors, so get them now. You’ll be glad you did!