Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Sister Act"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Sister Act"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bill Hanney spares no expense in bringing quality theater to the residents of Beverly and this musical is no exception to that rule. "Sister Act" is the international smash hit musical based on the mega-hit, 1992 film that starred Whoppi Goldberg. When disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put into protective custody in one place the cops are sure she can't be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and the uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique talents to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church, but in doing so blows her cover. Soon it is nun-on-the-run time but she finds salvation in the heavenly power of her newly found sisterhood. This musical hit contains a vast array of musical styles from Motown, soul and funk to great big disco anthems and Barry White inspired comedy. Director/choreographer Kevin Hill does a stunning job on this musical by obtaining high energy and quality from his whole cast with superb dances while musical director Andrew Bryan taught the infectious and melodic score to the cast while conducting a twelve piece orchestra. The fantastic and gorgeous sets are by up and coming scenic designer Nate Bertone also throw in fabulous costumes by Nina Ninestein and you have the makings of this musical masterpiece that had the crowd on its feet cheering at the close of the night. Bravo!

Leading this cast as Deloris is Jeanette Bayardelle. She delivers a strong performance as this energetic and captivating character. Jeanette also has a powerhouse voice that blows the roof off the theater. She and the two girls in her act in the nightclub start the show off with two super numbers "Take Me to Heaven" which later becomes a nun's choir song and "Fabulous Baby" while she also has group songs. "It's Good to Be a Nun" and "Raise Your Voices", which is where she teaches the nuns how to sing properly and is also where the first act gets energized at last. "Sunday Morning Fever", "Bless Our Show" and the show stopping "Sister Act" are terrifically performed by Jeanette. The three comic nuns are Jennie Boone as Sister Mary Patrick, Tina Johnson as Sister Mary Lazarus and Lael Van Keuren as Sister Mary Robert. They are sensational. Ellen Harvey as the Mother Superior brings down the house with "Here Within Our Walls" where she tells Deloris the rules and regulations of the convent and especially in her solo "Haven't Got a Prayer" while Lael Van Keuren as Sister Mary Robert stops the show with her high octane song "The Life I Never Led" which she sings to Deloris. Ellen commands the stage as the authority figure in every scene she's in. A standout moment occurs when Mother Superior and Deloris final reach a truce finally figuring out that they aren't that different after all. Her soprano range is perfection and you could listen to her sing all day long. Lael and the fellow nuns do a marvelous job with their one liners and wisecracks along the way. Robert learns to stand up for herself after her pep talk with Deloris. The choral sound of all the nuns is astounding and is worth the price of admission.

Playing the cop who eventually falls for Deloris is Kyle Robert Carter as Eddie. He gets a chance to show off his voice in "I Could Be That Guy." Kyle does a nice job as this sympathetic guy who gives Deloris tough love at first before he falls head over heels in love with her. The villain of the show, Curtis is excellently played by Jonathan Kirkland. He displays his voice with his three thugs in "When I Find My Baby" while the three thugs try to figure out how to capture her in "Lady in the Long Black Dress" which is hilarious as each of them sings to a woman in the audience. The thugs are played for laughs by Avionce Hoyles as TJ, Brent Bateman as Joey and Nikko Kimzin as Pablo. They are reminiscent of the three stooges with their wild and crazy antics. Kudos to the entire cast with their fabulous dancing and singing prowess. So for a contemporary musical that will have you on your feet cheering, dancing and singing in the aisles, be sure to catch "Sister Act'' before Deloris and her nuns get booked elsewhere. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Sister Act" (3 - 15 nOVEMBER)
@ 62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide