Sister Act: The Musical by Kentwood Players
Kentwood Players’ Sister Act: The Musical, based on the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film, is a spirited, 1970s-set production that the whole family can clap along to.
Deloris (the sassy and very talented Maya Véronique Pérez) is a lounge singer at the club owned by her mobster boyfriend Curtis (the intimidating Lawrence Hatcher), but dreams of making it into the big-time music industry. After accidentally witnessing Curtis murder a henchman, Deloris is on the run for her life. Cop Eddie (the lovable Randy Acosta) helps Deloris by hiding her in a convent led by a by-the-book Mother Superior (the classy and seasoned Patricia Butler).
Dragged kicking and screaming into leading the life of a nun while waiting to testify against Curtis, Deloris paves her own way when she takes control of the convent choir. The nuns of Queen of Angels Cathedral find their voices with Deloris’ help, and Deloris finds her sisters and inspiration in the convent. But with the choir gaining popularity and TV exposure, Curtis catches wind of where Deloris is, and is determined to silence her for good.
Sister Act is a fun production full of power-house female roles. It was easy to root for Pérez’s Deloris, who commanded the stage. She had tremendous vocals and a soft heart beneath her hardened, diva-esque exterior. As the uptight Mother Superior trying to reign in Deloris’ extravagant tendencies, Butler was grounded and proved a great foil to Pérez. The dynamics between these two strong women who are set in their ways were fun to watch, and it was a pleasure when they opened up and learned a little something from one another.
As in the movie, Sister Act revels in wide range of outlandish characters – bombastic Mary Patrick (Lindsay Dodoras), crotchety Mary Lazarus (Lynn Gutstadt) and shy Mary Robert (Lyndsey Palmer) – who support Deloris through thick and thin. In group numbers, I found myself dazzled by this trio of women, who fully embodied their characters even when not the center of attention.
As for the men in Sister Act, I rooted for Acosta’s Eddie, but did not like how the script shoe-horned in an unnecessary love story, especially when it did not seem reciprocated by Deloris. Curtis’ “When I Find My Baby” provided some dark humor as he debated how he would do away with Deloris once he found her. And I really enjoyed Curtis’ henchmen in their silly song, “Lady in the Long Black Dress,” in which they acted out how they would woo their way into the convent.
Since the Kentwood Players is a non-professional theater group, they give ample opportunities for new performers to shine. The majority of the performers in Sister Act rose to the occasion, but there were a handful of instances of pitch and/or choreography issues, sometimes even involving the leads. There was also an unfortunate costume malfunction during Acosta’s big number as Eddie, but he maintained his composure and soldiered on valiantly, and with impressive pipes.
While the onstage band, led by Mike Walker, was fantastic, I wish the actors were equipped with microphones, as they were difficult to hear over the music. I often felt like they were shouting their songs in order to be heard in the back row, and even then, lyrics were lost. The Sister Act score by Alan Menken, for me, wasn’t as catchy as some of his better works (Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors), but the cast sure sang the h*** out of it (sorry, Mother Superior).
Sister Act: The Musical runs Friday-Sunday through April 21st. Buy your tickets here.