CCTC's 'Sister Act: The Musical' A Comic Gem

By: Amy Tagliaferri

Topics: Local Theater

Heidi Cloutier (Deloris Van Cartier, Cella Mariani (Sister Mary Lazarus) and Paige Neal (Nun) in “Sister Act, The Musical.” NICOLE GOWAN PHOTO

Deloris Van Cartier, nightclub singer and disco queen, is not someone you’d picture in a nun’s habit. In “Sister Act, The Musical” Deloris finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time when she witnesses her mob-leader lover killing an associate. Forced into witness protection, astonishingly she finds herself in a convent. But it’s here that Deloris learns there are Sisters and then there are sisters. When the Mother Superior punishes the brash, uninvited guest by assigning her to the convent’s hapless and hopelessly out-of-key choir, Deloris and the nuns bond and grow close over Deloris’s love of music.

In this musical version of the popular Whoopi Goldberg film (music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane), the Cape Cod Theatre Company, home of the Harwich Junior Theatre, is bringing down the house. The cast of 20 will have you clapping your hands and grinning from ear to ear as soon as the Deloris puts on her habit.

Deloris (Heidi Cloutier) brings the best out of the nuns as much as they bring the best out of her, both as written in the script and with their performances. Cloutier’s talent of accurately portraying her character’s growth is transfixing. The actor sparkles and radiates. And she’s surrounded by stellar performances that complement and stand out alongside hers at the same time. It’s a joy to behold. The convent strives for conformity and uniformity by giving each nun the name Mary before another; Deloris became Sister Mary Clarence. But these actors (Kym Edson, Anne Vohs, Emma Fitzpatrick, Hannah Carrita, Celia Mariani, Kathy Hamilton, Karen McPherson, Paige Neal, Rachael Kenneally and Fabienne Wilcox) all projected their character with glimpses of sass and personality brilliantly; and they sang wonderfully too. The “choir” numbers were fantastic! Mother Superior (Holly Hansen) captivated the opening night audience with “Haven’t Got a Prayer” and as did Fitzpatrick with “The Life I Never Led.”

And yes, the nuns are the stars of this show but the scene stealers were the henchmen (Doug Sivco, Warren Harrington and Rod Owens) of mobster Curtiss (Paul Schuyler), especially in the production number “Lady in the Long Black Dress.” These three were hysterical. My theater companion compared them to the wild and crazy guys in Saturday Night Live of old. Another highlight of the show was Sweaty Eddie’s (Ari Lew) “I Could Be That Guy.” Lew is a comic gem. Nick Romano and Ed Coppola also shine in multiple roles as does Terrence Brady as the Monsignor.

Director/Musical Director Robert Wilder can hold his head high. Wilder has assembled an incredible group and given audiences a cohesive, incredibly delightful show. He and his band (Wilder, keyboard; Tony Stevens, clarinet and alto sax; Ryder clarinet and tenor sax; Mark Van Bork, percussion and Trevor Pearson bass) were great too. Suzette Hutchinson’s choreography was spot-on, combining the disco era with flowing habits. The set (James P. Byrne, set and lighting designer; Matt Kohler tech director) portrayed both nightclub and convent through clever moving panels and superb lighting, along with J Hagenbuckle’s excellent sound design. Emily Taradesh’s costumes captured the authentic habits and the glitz of the disco era. Back stage Jack Coughlin (stage manager, light board operator), Ethan Hanley (spotlight and sound board) plus Rachel Simmons, Romano and Coppola (stage crew) never missed a cue.

The show is a little over two hours with a 15-minute intermission. Thank you, CCTC/HJT and Nina Schuessler, producing artistic director, for another fantastic show. Support this theater by buying your tickets today! The opening night audience were on their feet at the show’s closing bows, you will be too!

 DETAILS: 

"Sister Act, The Musical"

At The Cape Cod Theatre Company, home of the Harwich Junior Theatre, through April 23; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Special vacation performance Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. No Performance on Thursday, April 6 or on Easter Sunday, April 16.  Information and reservations: 508-432-2002, www.capecodtheatrecompany.org