Want to go?
What: Community Theatre of Greensboro presents “Sister Act”
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2-5 and 9-12; and 2 p.m. today, Nov. 6 and 13
Where: Starr Theatre, 520 S. Elm St., Greensboro
Tickets: $10-$30 at the box office, by phone at (336) 333-7470 or online at https://ctgso.org
Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2016 12:00 am
By Lynn Jessup Special to Go Triad
There’s something magical about community theater. People you go to church with, work with or even live near become their alter egos — actors — and transform before your eyes.
That being said, there are some plays more suited to community theater than others. That’s why when Community Theatre of Greensboro executive director Mitchell Sommers heard that touring rights for “Sister Act” were being released, he jumped on it. He believes that CTG is the first theater in North Carolina to mount the 2011 Broadway hit based on the much-loved 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg.
There’s a lot of community in “Sister Act” and a lot of different cultures within that community. When those cultures collide, this musical comedy becomes outrageous and over the top.
Sommers tapped Elizabeth Flax to direct. A stage veteran and regular on “Law & Order: SVU” (ER nurse), Flax is a natural to direct this hit of stages large and small — CTG’s stage (formerly Broach), of course, being a smaller one.
But this stage packs a big theatrical punch.
Thirteen singing (and dancing) nuns provide a golden opportunity to showcase local talent, and the image of this diverse ensemble lingers like a powerful vision even after the show is over.
St. James Presbyterian Church choir director Jasmine K. Evans is wild woman Deloris Van Cartier, whose knack for falling for bad boys lands her in a witness protection program in a teetering inner-city Philadelphia convent. This is Evans’ first lead, but you’d never know it.
This is a strong role for a strong woman with a strong voice, and Evans is up for the calling. As Deloris, Evans must lead these meek sisters into new territory to save their church, their community, and ultimately, Deloris herself. Evans’ beautiful rendition of “Take Me to Heaven” goes from provocative to prayerful as the plotline develops.
Her counterpart, Mother Superior, played by Lisa Upper, sings “Here Within These Walls,” her anthem, with conviction. Upper, a librarian — remember, these actors are all volunteers with day jobs — walks a fine line as Mother Superior between restraining and protecting the disco diva and remaining in harmony with her vows.
The nuns are a religious mosaic of personalities — the demure Sister Mary Robert (16-year-old Jael Arriaga), the overly perky Sister Mary Patrick (Gillian Gurganus), the pragmatic Sister Mary Lazarus (Elizabeth Roberts) among them — and they all add to the rousing success of this production. Each sister brings her own talent and individuality to this angelic choir of close harmony, and each is captivating in her own way.
A four-piece band backs up all the numbers and blends in so well, they practically disappear into the set.
Yes, there are other characters in this play, not the least of which is John Lee Jellicorse, the legendary UNCG drama professor, as Monsignor O’Hara. To see Jellicorse shake a leg is itself worth the price of admission.
Roy Carlson as Curtis, the love interest/would-be murderer of Deloris (“When I Find My Baby”) is convincing as the antagonist, but it is his two goons, Pablo (UNCG theater student Alexander Amaya) and Joey (Nigel Rush) who threaten to steal his thunder with their “Lady in the Long Black Dress” (perhaps subtitled as “How to Seduce a Nun”). They wear their 1970s garb with John Travolta panache — kudos to Mary Jane Akerman, costumer. We love us some ’70s.
Also lovable are the smooth musical stylings (“I Could Be That Guy”) of Torren Melton as Eddie, a cop with a perspiration problem, especially around Deloris.
Melton is an 11th-grader at Page High, but is talented beyond his years.
CTG’s “Sister Act” is everything you adore about Broadway and community theater rolled into an irrepressible, irreverent and undeniably sparkling disco ball of talent. It is not to be missed.