Starring Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier in an unconventional witness protection program, Maggie Smith as the stern but caring Mother Superior, a cast of colorful nuns and a soundtrack of dynamite oldies, 1992’s “Sister Act” could arguably be considered a classic—or, at the least, highly entertaining.
Fourteen years later, “Sister Act” reappeared as a musical, dropping the familiar movie songs in favor of original disco-infused numbers from lyricist Glenn Slater (“The Little Mermaid” musical) and composer Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Newsies”). Review were generally positive, and from 2011 to 2012 it even ran on Broadway.
Now, the musical version comes to the Mesa Arts Center for its first-ever Valley performance by a local company, thanks to Gilbert’s Studio 3 Performing Arts Academy, Limelight Performing Arts and a cast of 30 teenagers.
“Our actors rehearsed throughout their winter vacations and all this month singing and dancing to bring this uplifting story to the stage,” says Emma England, the owner and Artistic Director of Studio 3. She also co-choreographed and co-directed the show with Marie South of Limelight Youth Theatre.
For the actors, the show creates personal connections, despite the fact that they’re nearly 10 years younger than the original movie.
Phoebe Koyabe of Chandler says of her role as Deloris Van Cartier, “I like playing a character with a lot of stamina, who has a deeper character than meets the eye.”
Likewise, Gillian Elliot of Gilbert enjoys the part of Mother Superior because she gets to be “stern and British the entire time.” This also happens to be one of her favorite shows.
Playing the part of the initially timid Sister Mary Robert, Lina Cappellano of Chandler found a deeper meaning. Sadly, her father passed away from illness two months before rehearsals started, and she had a hard time just getting out of bed to practice.
However, the show eventually got her back on her feet.
“Now, I realize that it’s better than not doing what I love,” she says. “And I know when we open the show, my dad will have the best seat in the house.”
The musical opens Wednesday, Feb. 1, and England promises “a feel-good show that we know will get audiences of all ages rocking in their seats.”
If You Go…
Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main St., Mesa
When: Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 1-5
More info: 480-644-6500 or http://mesaartscenter.com/