Artcetera

‘Nun’ better: ‘Sister Act’ delights at Arts Center of Coastal Carolina

The cast of “Sister Act” at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.
The cast of “Sister Act” at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Submitted photo

Lyrically, musically, choreographically, theatrically and visually, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s production of the musical comedy “Sister Act” is simply spot-on.

The Elizabeth Wallace Theater was filled to the brim with the energetic performances of the 18-member cast under the direction of New Yorker Evan Pappas. They acted, they sang, they danced, they moved, and they offered a sui generis performance. The stage was aglow with the glitz and glamour of the characters, their costumes and the settings.

Be on the lookout for a surprise flash of red sequins, which is a hint at a turning point in this wholly spirited musical comedy, which, nevertheless, leaves us with a touching takeaway about a transformation and a transition.

With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, based on a book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, and based on the motion picture “Sister Act” written by Joseph Howard, our “Sister Act” is guaranteed to completely entertain.

Look forward to the soaring musical numbers carefully coaxed from the leads and more so when everyone comes together with the same shared standard of musical perfection and purpose. The entire ensemble, carefully overseen by musical director Bob Bray, combined to make the opening night performance high-spirited, irresistible and miraculous.

Everybody, notably choreographer Vincent Ortega and costume designer Eloise Petro, joined together to take this particular “Sister Act” over the top.

I’m betting you all know the storyline, but just in case: Deloris Van Cartier (Natalie Renee) desperately wants a show-biz career. She is involved with a super sleazy promoter Curtis (Clyde Voce), who controls her and whom she witnesses in a shooting. This causes him to put her at the top of his “find her and shoot her list.”

He is backed, comically, by three ridiculously funny thugs — Pablo (Pepe Nufrio), T J (DeJuan Thompson) and Joey (Vincent Ortega) — whose job it is to find Deloris and “make it impossible for her to make her court appearance.”

A good guy policeman, Eddie “Sweaty Eddie” (Danny Wilfred), who has had a crush on Deloris since high school, responds to the challenge of protecting her from Curtis and these silly thugs so she can testify and set the record straight.

The decision is made to sequester Deloris in a convent, where she will be unobserved and safely out of harm’s way until her court appearance. It is at the convent where we meet Mother Superior (Leslie Alexander), Sister Mary Robert (Bridget Elise Yingling), Sister Mary Lazarus (Jan Neuberger), Sister Mary Patrick (Ariana Valdes) and Monsignor O’Hara (Stuart Marland).

The leads are brilliantly supported by the remarkably talented, highly skilled and irresistible ensemble. Tracy Byrd, Aisha Curtiss, Daria Degaetano, Trevor Dorner, Katie Mercier Miller, Jessi St. George and Lorin Zackular are first rate.

The two-act show moves seamlessly from setting to setting — a rehearsal room, a back office, a police station, a bar and, of course, the convent. The opener, “Take Me To Heaven,” sets the plot in motion, and “Fabulous, Baby” guarantees that we are totally on board with the transformation we sense will begin to play out. We continue with “Here Within These Walls,” “Raise Your Voice,” “Take Me To Heaven,” “The Life I Never Led” and “Sister Act.”

The redux of “Raise Your Voice” wraps up and celebrates the evening, and we in the audience were spontaneously on our feet.

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at nancykwellard@gmail.com.

If you go:

What: Sister Act

When and where: Through May 21 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina

For more information: Call 843-842-ARTS or email Artshhi.co, www.artshhi.com

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