In review: ‘Sister Act’ musical invites audience to get down to the hymns
A convent full of nuns hardly sounds like a place where riotous dialogue, musical outbursts and accompanying dance routines take place, but The Holy Order of the Little Sisters of Our Mother of Perpetual Faith isn’t the usual convent, at least not once Deloris Van Cartier gets there.
Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s production of “Sister Act” tells the story of a sassy singer, Deloris Van Cartier, who finds herself threatened by her mob-boss boyfriend Curtis after she sees him kill one of his associates.
Originally set in the 1970s and based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, the Grand Lake theatre’s version feels fresh and relevant to a modern audience, thanks in large part to the lead actress Brandi Campbell. Campbell is new to Rocky Mountain Rep, but she is electric as Deloris, bringing the audience to dance in their seats during her songs.
What: “Sister Act”
Where: Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, 800 Grand Avenue, Grand Lake
When: 2019 Summer Calendar
Who: Deloris Van Cartier – Brandi Campbell
Mother Superior – Sophie Grimm
Curtis – Khyel S. Roberson
Eddie – Michael E. Martin
How Much: Tickets start at $35 for adults and $25 for children. More info here.
She is placed in protective custody by an old friend and local police officer Eddie at a convent, where she becomes part of the church choir. Her cover doesn’t last long thanks to her musical talents and ultimately, Deloris and the other nuns must face down the mobsters and save the convent.
Easily the best scenes in the play are the ones where Deloris and the nuns, including Sisters Mary Patrick, Mary Lazarus and Mary Robert, bond over music and shenanigans. The juxtaposition of Deloris’ wisecracking street smarts and the nuns’ earnestness and naïveté makes for both touching moments and plenty of laughs.
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A perfect example of this is the opening musical number in Act Two, “Sunday Morning Fever,” which combines lively energy, an up-tempo hymn and sparkling habits, which is more reminiscent of a Baptist service than a Catholic convent.
Two particular standouts from the convent are Sister Mary Robert, played by Celena Van Morgan, and Mother Superior, played by Sophie Grimm. Sister Mary Robert starts the musical as a shy, sister-in-training, but blossoms into a strong, outspoken character thanks to Deloris’ mentoring.
Meanwhile, Grimm’s Mother Superior presents the perfect foil to Deloris, as the pious, yet put-out leader who isn’t quite sure what to make of this test of faith.
However, anytime the plot was focused away from the convent, things did slow. Luckily, the mob henchmen TJ, Joey and Pablo (played by Cortez Emerson, Josh Levinson and Noah Royal Barnes, respectively) threatened to steal the show with their “Lady in the Long Black Dress” number and emotive chase scenes.
In the end, this play really does remind the audience that we are often more alike than different, but also that our differences can be our strengths. Monsignor O’Hara of the convent said it best: “If you only see one Catholic mass this season, let it be this one.”
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