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Sunday, 28 February 2016 19:30

Review: Sister Act at Broadway Palms

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Fort Myers is home to high spirits as the musical Sister Act has opened at Broadway Palms. Adapted from the Whoopi Goldberg movie from 1992, it was converted into a play in 2006 with music composed by Alan Menken, who himself found fame with his music for Disney animated hits “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin.”

That level of musical pedigree carries well into this production, providing a memorable soundtrack to the story of Deloris Van Cartie, whose dreams of the bright lights of stardom are derailed when she witnesses a murder perpetuated at the hands of her criminal boyfriend. As a key witness, the police hide her away in convent of nuns at a local cathedral. While the movie’s memorable take on the 1964 Mary Wells hit “My Guy” is nowhere to be seen, the plays originals such as the electric “Take me to Heaven,” and longing “Life I Never led” are worthy successors in giving the adaptation a life of its own.

While the cut and dry nature of a fish out of water story are quite apparent by the brief description, the play (much like the movie) manages to be greater than the sum of its parts. It avoids the twin pitfalls of being either dismissive or heavy-handed in regards to the ambient religious setting, and crafts a tale that celebrates the power of a sense of belonging. Deloris, alone and cast adrift in the material world, and the nuns, shuffling through a rigid cloister and unable to connect with the outside, make great foils for one another, and the frequent clashes and surprising similarities between their two worlds create numerous scenes that are equally humorous and heartwarming.

Sister Act Press 2

Housso Semon, playing the role of Deloris, has the biggest shadow to escape, having to follow in Whoopi’s footsteps. She does an excellent job as the heart of the play, bestowing a bold comedic verve and a gifted set of pipes to the production. She belts out many of the key musical numbers with the passion to carry the night, and handles her growth as a more selfless person with a graceful touch.

Jama Bowen’s turn as the Mother Superior is equally important for the sake of the play. Again, it’s a role that follows a superb performance from the movie by Maggie Smith. The key foil to Deloris’s antics, the Mother has the delicate but vital role as straight man, having to be subtly comedic without hamming it up, and being antagonistic without turning the audience against her. Bowen performs superbly, imbuing the song “Haven’t got a prayer” with a somber undercurrent without losing sight of the play’s comedic nature. She strikes that elusive medium necessary for the comically serious, and is the soul to Deloris’s heart.

Other standouts included Rachael Harber as Mary Robert, the youngest nun in the convent, and the most impressionable to Deloris’s exploits. Harber imbues the role with an innocent excitement that never becomes grating.

Keith McCoy is also excellent in his limited time on stage as the villainous boyfriend, Curtis Jackson. While his goons are played exclusively for laughs, McCoy himself brings a menace to the role that shows up just enough to remind the audience of the stakes of the story, while avoiding taking it to a dark enough place that we forget the play’s primary mission is to make us laugh. His deep, rumbling presence pops up at all the right times, and his take gives the otherwise lighthearted romp a gravitas that lifts it up.




            FORT MYERS, Fla – February 18, 2016 – The feel-good musical comedy Sister Act is at Broadway Palm! Playing now through April 2, 2016, Sister Act features original music by Tony and 8-time Oscar winner Alan Menken and is based on the hit film of the same title that starred Whoopi Goldberg.   

            Sister Act tells the story of Deloris, a disco diva, witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look…a convent! Masquerading as a nun, and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. She makes new friends and breathes new life into the church, but in the process, blows her cover! This high-spirited musical comedy is a shining tribute to the universal power of friendship.

            Directing and choreographing Sister Act is Amy Marie McCleary. McCleary’s credits include the 2015 national tour of Memphis the Musical along with the recent Broadway Palm hits CATS, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and Footloose among many others! She received her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now makes her home in Southwest Florida where along with directing and choreographing, she works with many young performers as a vocal coach.
            Get ready to rejoice and get your tickets for Sister Act playing now through April 2, 2016 at Broadway Palm. Ticket prices range from $39 to $62 with discounts for children and groups of 20 or more. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, by visiting www.BroadwayPalm.com or by stopping by the box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

Read 4010 times Last modified on Sunday, 28 February 2016 19:46

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