Heavenly “Sister Act” Hits Orlando

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caricature Brad Haynes
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If you’re only familiar with Sister Act as a 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg (and its 1994 sequel Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit), then you’re in for a treat with the recent musical adaptation of the film currently playing at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre as part of the Florida Theatrical Association presentation of the Broadway Across America touring musical.

Once again, diva-licious Deloris Van Cartier (Ta’Rea Campbell) finds herself hiding out in the convent while in protective custody, this time belting out tunes written by The Little Shop of HorrorsThe Little Mermaid and current Broadway smash Newsies composer Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater. The musical transports the action to 1978 Philly, allowing for disco, R&B, and a healthy dose of Gospel to be dished out evenly throughout the show.

As soon as Deloris holes up in the convent, she begins to comically butt heads with Mother Superior (Hollis Resnik, resonating with a lovingly stern demeanor and superb comic timing). But it’s when nun-on-the-run Deloris takes on the assignment of leading the group of seemingly tone deaf sisters that the show truly soars. Giddy Sister Mary Patrick (Florrie Bagel) and naive Sister Mary Robert (Lael Van Keuren) are both standouts (particularly Van Keuren with “The Life I Never Led”), but it’s crotchety Sister Mary Lazarus (Diane J. Findlay) who brings the house down at the start of the second act with a hilarious rap.

As Deloris’ gangster boyfriend Curtis Jackson, Kingsley Leggs is sleazy perfection. And as “Sweaty” Eddie Souther, the Philly cop who not only wants to save Deloris but also aims to win her heart, E. Clayton Cornelious is totally endearing, and very funny. Just try to figure out the amazing costume change performed during his first act number “I Could Be That Guy!” Even Curtis’ three daft henchmen have a chance to shine in the hilarious “Lady in the Long Black Dress.”

But it’s Campbell’s Deloris that truly holds the piece together, showing a generosity of spirit with the other actors, but taking her place center stage in fine form when it’s her opportunity to shine.

Sister Act is a joyous way for the entire family to kick off the holiday season.

The show runs every night through Sunday, December 9th, with additional matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available online at www.OrlandoBroadway.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the FAIRWINDS Broadway Across America – Orlando box office located at 100 South Eola Drive, Suite 101 in downtown Orlando or by calling 1-800-982-2787. And don’t forget the next show, Mary Poppins, which will be running from January 8-13, 2013. Tickets would make the perfect stocking stuffer!

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