Theater Review: ‘Sister Act’

Melissa Garrett

With a majority of seats filled with excited elderly and middle-aged couples, the audience excitedly hushed as the lights dimmed, a booming voice asking audience members to turn off their cell phones “for God’s sake,” as many laughed in the darkness.

The opening curtain revealed bright lights and a glittering stage with star Deloris Van Cartier, played by Kerissa Arrington and two female go-go dancers singing “Take Me to Heaven” in golden outfits and high-heeled boots. A wall of shimmering tinsel upped the excitement of the number, while lights changed the golden tinsel to bright pink and blue during the energetic tune.  

After accidentally witnessing her boyfriend Curtis, played by Kolby Kindle, shoot and kill a man, Arrington poses as a nun at the Queen of Angels Church and shines as the motivating church choir leader.  

As soon as Deloris sets foot inside the convent, Mother Superior, played by Maggie Clennon Reberg, distrusts Deloris’s intentions to improve the nuns’ singing and seeing her “celibate nuns shaking their buns.” In arguably the most moving song of the evening, “Raise Your Voice” features Arrington and her fellow nuns singing to the heavens and the nuns’ hilariously bad singing rapidly changes into angelic harmony under Deloris’s direction.

Clever lyrics in musical numbers featuring Curtis and his crew—Joey, Pablo and TJ—were delightfully dangerous and sexually implicit, while over-the-top and corny romance songs from “Sweaty” Eddie, a police officer played by Lamont O’Neal, who wins the heart of Deloris, added to the humor of the musical.

The musical was complemented by attention-grabbing sets with beautiful portrayals of the church and stain glass windows projected onto the stage. Vibrant costuming and visual effects created an aesthetically pleasing performance, not to mention quick costume changes and a never-ending supply of glittery gowns and garments.

It was hard not to get chills and goose bumps from the harmonious sounds of the “Sister Act” cast, as their high energy and perfect pitch resonated to the top of the Stephens Auditorium rafters. Each character was individually talented, which made for a remarkably strong and captivating performance.

Even though Curtis threatening to kill Deloris is what drives the plot, the journey Arrington makes from disco diva to devoted sister and choir director at the holy church is what hooks the audience and moved me to tears. Deloris finds friendship and sisterhood at the convent in exchange for fame and fortune as an independent singer when she realizes her true calling to revamp the music program and save the church from bankruptcy.

“Sister Act” was incredibly well received by the audience, who wildly clapped in between numbers. After an unforgettable performance, the ending song provoked a well-deserved standing ovation and the entire cast re-emerged from behind the curtain for one last song. Making her way to the front of the stage, Deloris trades glittering choir robes for an elegant ball gown and white fur shawl to end the must-see Broadway musical.