At Marriott Theatre, high energy 'Sister Act' will blow you away
Broadway’s Stephanie Umoh and the cast of Marriott’s “Sister Act” are so perfect that you are likely to see it again so you can share its joyful sounds and exhuberant choreography with friends.
Umoh plays Deloris Van Cartier, an aspiring nightclub singer who needs to hide from her former “killer” gang leader lover, so well that halfway into the first act all thoughts of comparing her to Whoop Goldberg in the 1992 film have disco-danced out the vestry door.
Right, in this production, a regional premiere, the music moves to a disco beat.
The book about a singer who changes the flagging spirit of a convent where she hides, has been re-written by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner with additional material by Douglas Carter Beane, so that the action take place in the 1970s. That gave composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glen Slater the freedom to come up with new songs.
Their music, Melissa Zaremba’s choreography and every cast member’s performance will have you clapping so much after each number that you think it will be the highlight until the next number comes along.
Credit partially goes to director Don Stephenson and music director Doug Peck. But it’s also because the show is well cast. Hollis Resnik, a popular Marriott and Chicago theater performer fits the Mother superior role like a well-worn habit. Then there are the nuns whose personalities and great voices stand out separate and yet, work well together.
Tiffany Tatreau is terrific as Mary Robert who sings "The Life I Never Led." Mary Robin Roth is a hoot as the surprisingly adaptable, aged Mary Lazarus character and Lillian Castillo is a joyful Mary Patrick who could have been the prototype of one of Disney’s funny, helpful fairies in the original “Cinderella.
The guys who play the gang are a riot when they do a “Four Freshmen-style routine that has shades of “Jersey Boys.” But the males actors who really were gems were policeman Jonathan Butler-Duplessis who as Eddie Souther had a crush on Deloris and Don Forston who as Monsignor O'Hara encouraged the nuns in their Sister Act.
A shout-out has to go to costume designer Nancy Missimi who found new ways to turn nuns' hapits into brilliant costumes.