Monday, April 29, 2019

SDMT Opens With High Energy “Sister Act”

San Diego Musical Theatre is on a roll this year with its charming “Crazy for You” in Feb. and now its high energy “Sister Act” playing at the Horton Grand Theatre in the busy Gaslamp Quarter through May 26th. If you’ve not seen the live adaptation you might have seen the 1992 film that Whoopi Goldberg is most associated.

It was adapted for stage in 2011 and took with it Tony nominations for Best Book of a Musical (Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkillner), Best Actress in a Musical (Patina Miller), Best Musical and Best Original Score (Alan Menken, music Glenn Slater, lyrics) This current incarnation credits Douglas Carter Bean with additional book material.

Sandy Campbell and Jim Chovick
The book, while not earth shattering calls for a high energy cast, (there are thirteen) singers, dancers (Luke Harvey Jacobs choreographed) some dressed to the nines in sparkling and bling Nun Habits (Janet Pitcher). Its all done all under the baton of musical/disco director Don Le Master and his 12 member band up in the grandstands. Larry Rabin (“Young Frankenstein”) directs with an eye for more comic shtick than seen in the past productions.

The set up (and its just that) has wanna be disco star Deloris Van Cartier (standout Miriam Dance) “Fabulous Baby” with Michelle and Tina (Reanne Acasio and Jasmine January), who is pretty much fed up with her ‘cousin’/boyfriend/gangsta Curtis Jackson (a very big Berto Fernandez). Doris is looking for a spot for her trio to sing in his disco but he keeps her on a string saying she’s not ready.
Beto Fernandez, Donny Gersonde, Geraldo Flores Tonella, E.Y. Washington
After being refused this one last time to get a gig in his nightclub she storms out of a rehearsal with her tail between her legs with the Christmas gift of a blue furry thing (that has his wife’s name embroidered in it) that he gave her for Christmas. Ready to return the so- called gift to Curtis she happens in on a murder in progress. 

Frightened for her life, she hightails it to the police to report the crime. There, in the police station, she meets up with one of her old classmates Eddie (or Sweaty Hands as they called him in high school) the now in charge cop. (a too sweet to be a cop Jeremy Whatley).

He works out a plan with Monsignor O’Hara (a fun loving, easy going Jim Chovick) and they decide the best way for her to be safe is to put her in the witness protection program in the local convent, where she will be undercover in a Nun’s Habit.
There she runs into a brick wall called Mother Superior. (Sandy Campbell). To say that she is delighted with the prospect of a Deloris being there, would take many visits to the Confessional booth and just as many Hail Mary’s, but between Monsignor and his new friend Deloris they manage to compromise.  

After getting the feeling that Deloris will not conform to any of the vows expected of the other’s, Mother Superior puts her in the choir. After all, she is a singer. Since none of her nun’s seems to be aware that a choir sings in harmony, Mother Superior leaves them to their own devices and, trust me, you don’t want to know what that sounds like. 

When we first meet up with this motley group, they are on their way to practice, each singing in their own key. But not to worry, Deloris whips them into one solid singing voice and by show’s end they are rocking the house down with one outstanding rollicking number and new glittering habit, after another.

Now, the once poor Convent on the brink of going under and /or being sold to a pair of antique dealers is solvent and ready to take its “Sister Act” on the road.
Miriam Dance and Jeremy Whatley
Meanwhile outside the convent walls, Curtis and his sidekicks, Joey, Pablo and TJ (Donny Gersonde, Geraldo Flores Tonella, E.Y. Washington-“When I find My Baby”) run in all directions looking for Deloris when, in fact, she shows up at the club across the street and practically in plain daylight. So much for detective work.

The hide and seek games continue, the cops get their men, Sweaty Hands and Deloris get together and she decides that her work in the convent is more important than all the nightclub acts. In the words of The Bard, “All’s well That Ends Well”.

Shout outs for Miriam Dance. She was able to sustain her high energy, high-powered vocal chords throughout (“Take Me To Heaven” rocked the house). Sandy Campbell’s Mother Superior “Here Within These Wall” (with Deloris) is another winner, to the final give in (“I Haven’t Got A Prayer”), but LORD she does worry too much!

As the young postulant, Sara Errington’s Sister Mary Robert, knocked some socks off when she finally broke out of her clumsy mode in “The Life I Never Led”. Bethany Slomka (“Hairspray”) is Sister Mary Patrick. She too packs some sustaining lung- power. (“Raise Your Voice”)

Mathys Herbert designed the flexible set with some beautiful stained glass windows framing the back and coming across like the real deal with Michelle Miles’ lighting design.
Nuns in Janet Pitcher's Bling 

This “Sister Act” is fun, too loud, (mic problems), and a bit too long but a whole lot of Nun-sense with built in fun to claim for an evening, well if not flying nuns, Nun’s in the act of being sisters.  

The entire cast is full of piss and vinegar starring many who have been in this show before and there is a reason for it.They’re having fun, even in church, and they are good at it!

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through May 26th
Organization: San Diego Musical Theatre
Phone: 858-560-5740
Production Type: Musical
Where: 444 4th Ave, Gaslamp Quarter Downtown San Diego
Ticket Prices: $30.00-$60.00
Venue: Horton Grand Theatre
Photo: Ken Jacques


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