Mirvish Productions – Sister Act: A divine musical comedy

The Broadway touring show of Sister Act is a win win situation. It’s better than the 1992 movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith. Like a lot of commercial shows, Sister Act went through major revisions between the West End run (2009) and Broadway (2011), but who cares. The final product is just plain lol clever in its book and lyrics.

The musical story is about singer Deloris Van Cartier (aka Doris Carter) whose boyfriend Curtis Jackson is a gangster. Deloris witnesses a murder and is placed in a convent for witness protection where she clashes with the Mother Superior while getting all the other nuns on side.

Set in the 1970s, the story has inspired a toe-tapping, disco infused score by Alan Menken. Any show that has a hilarious upbeat song about how many ways the gangster is going to kill Deloris (When I Find My Baby) has a lot going for it. And then there’s those zingers. When Deloris discovers that one of the nuns is a postulant, she says that she knows what it’s like being without money.

The cast is first rate, with Ta’rea Campbell as a Deloris who can really belt out a tune, and Hollis Resnik as the tart, sarcastic Mother Superior. Kingsley Leggs does a great job as the no good Curtis Jackson. And mention should be made of lyricist Glenn Slater and book writers Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, and Douglas Carter Beane (who did the Broadway rewrite), for their sophisticated input. The costumes of Lez Brotherston are inspired. As the choir of nuns finds their voices under Deloris’ tutorship, their habits get more bling.

I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, not to mention belly laughs in between.

Sister Act, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane, (starring Ta’rea Campbell and Hollis Resnik, directed by Jerry Zaks), Ed Mirvish Theatre, Oct. 2 to Nov. 4, 2012.