OGDEN — Sister Act is a musical currently showing at Terrace Plaza Playhouse in Ogden, based on the 1992 movie of the same title. New original songs were added to the story by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, with a book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner. The story surrounds a night singer, Deloris, played by Olivia Lusk, who witnesses a murder by her boyfriend Curtis, played by W. Derek Hendricks. She goes to police officer Eddie, played by Casey Stratton, who decides that to keep her safe until trial the best place to hide her will be in a convent. The rest of the story concerns the heart and humor of an unbelieving outsider being placed into a world where dedication and devotion are the main points of living.
Olivia Lusk started a little slow as Deloris in this production. In he opening number “Take Me To Heaven,” the two back up dancers, played by Emily Richards and Rachel Duffin, had great choreography, but neither they nor Lusk seemed to hit the vocals well, so I was concerned. However, as a performer, Lusk grew into the role of Deloris, and by the end of the first act, the songs “Raise Your Voice” and the “Take Me To Heaven” reprise where absolutely stunning and showed a great deal of talent in vocals and acting for Lusk.
Choreographer Ginny Spencer did an excellent job of developing numbers that were very entertaining for the audience. Some of my personal favorites were “It’s Good to Be a Nun,” “When I Find My Baby,” and all of the musical numbers with the nuns performing in the church. Thanks to Spencer’s choreography and the catchy songs, I could see a lot of audience members dancing in their seats and clapping along.
Stratton is so well cast as the role of awkward Eddie. When he sings “I Could Be That Guy,” his vocals, mannerisms, and especially his facial expressions were all strong acting and quite endearing. He was able to connect with the audience and I felt myself really cheering for him to win Deloris’s heart. Pat Lusk plays the role of Mother Superior, who has the difficult task of trying to bring Deloris into the convent while protecting the cloistered life of the nuns. While Pat Lusk was quite charming with her acting and showing the emotion of the turmoil that her concerns for her work and the introduction of this new woman and the different beliefs she brings in, she did struggle with some of the songs. I had hoped for a little more musicality with some of her songs.
The other nuns, though, stole the show. Sister Mary Lazarus, played by Sherri Folkman, was an absolute pleasure to watch. The amount of humor she espoused as well as the comedic timing kept my eye on her any time she came on stage. Additionally, the cheerful nun Sister Mary Patrick, played by Melissa Pratt, was an absolute joy, and I had no trouble believing that she was the sunshine of the convent. Finally, novice Sister Mary Robert, played by Katie Johns Nall, was endearing and charming, and when she sang the song “The Life I Never Lead,” I felt tears form as I connected with the difficulty of always doing the right thing and wondering if you have missed out on some of the more exciting things of life.
Technically, as with many opening nights in many amateur theaters, there were some issues with sound. Probably the most noticeable were the whisperings back stage that came over the speakers on occasion, and an imbalance that seemed to make it difficult to hear some of the singing and dialogue when the music came on. Each of these issues could be easily remedied. Costuming was executed well by a team of costumers listed in the program, and the reflection and connection they made with the 1970s era was very fun. I also enjoyed the hair (my mother was a hairdresser), and I think that wig specialist Jamila Lowe did a superb job developing and finding the hair styles I remember seeing in all of my mother’s old magazines and pictures.
My ten year old daughter attended the show with me, and at the end she said “Mom, that was really fun!” I don’t think I can sum up the experience in any other way. While it may not have been the perfect production, I also agree that Sister Act was really very fun.