We are a part of a fantastic sister act, sings Sister Marie Clarence (Ta’rea Campbell). Sister Act comes to the Ed Mirvish Theatre for a one month run and reminds us why it’s good to be back in the habit. It’s silly, it’s fun and it’s in the name of the Good Lord. I’d invite a theatre-goer to let go and enjoy.
Truth be told, going into this performance, I am not familiar with the iconic Whoopi Goldberg movies of the early 90s. And having grown up in a Roman Catholic family I was interested to see where the lives of nuns would go.
Set in 1970s Philadelphia, we meet Deloris Van Cartier who witnesses a murder and is placed into the witness protection program, care of the nuns at the financially cash strapped Queen of Angels Church. As one would expect, typical fish out of water hijinks ensue. There were a few jokes where it would be helpful to be Catholic or Christian to understand, however, much comedic slapstick relief was provided by minor characters and helped round out a funny and warm story held together with sparkles – many, many sparkles.
Overall, the vocal performances were strong, I’m a fan of underrated performances and very much enjoyed Leal van Keuren’s coming-of-age Sister Mary Robert. The young Sister Mary Robert learns to channel the power of “FM” boots for without losing sight of herself while growing in her sisterly virtues. van Keuren’s tempered portrayal with the requisite belting was controlled and full of passion.
The sets of Sister Act are simple, and it appears that most of the budget went into the sequined numbers, including the larger-than-life-sized Virgin Mary statue housed in the Queen of Angels church during the latter half of the production.
Dance sequences are well choreographed to Alan Menken’s music and tie in superbly with Glenn Slater’s lyrics.
A strong anchor to Mirvish’s 2012-2013 season, Sister Act skews towards an audience slightly older than this particular author, though is an enjoyable night out – regardless of your religious affiliation. It will be an interesting contrast to The Book of Mormon which takes the stage in May 2013.
Sister Act the musical is set in the late 70s and has with a few jokes that might not pass for PC if set in 2012. In that same way, this production is a better aim for an audience that appreciates the easy jokes and shiny glitz that tells a story of a misfit who learns about herself through seeing life from a heavenly point of view.
Mirvish has a strong season lined up over the next 10 months – a mix of stage classics and new hyped productions. For my religious theatre quota, I may wait for The Book of Mormon to speak to my personal sensibilities, but I did enjoy a night cloistered away with nuns with the energy and spirit to spill into the pews of the crowd.
Sister Act is on stage at Ed Mirvish Theatre until November 4 on Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets are available through the Mirvish Box Office.