Last night a friend of mine and I went to see the first performance of the Chicago Stop of Sister Act the Musical… and honestly it was loads of fun to watch.
My friend mentioned that he thought the musical was “fun” and “cute” which is probably the best words to describe the show. It was entertaining, but there were a few gaffes along the way… but that was more on the technical end of the spectrum. So meh.
In any case… the cast recording I have at home is actually the West End Cast, so there was a song or two that I expected to hear that I didn’t… and the replacement songs wasn’t bad, but for some reason I simply wasn’t as thrilled. Guess my heart is just not American enough 😉
For anyone not really familiar with the original movie that the musical was based off of starring Whoopi Goldberg:
A lot of the primary characters (ok many of them) are included in the musical, however don’t expect to hear any of songs made popular via the movie to be in the musical. Instead the score as composed by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater and with a book written by Cherie Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner (and with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane) brings a fresh take of the music with catchy tunes and moving pieces.
My favorite is “Here Within These Walls”:
Yes… Whoopi Goldberg even stepped in to play Mother Superior for a spell in the West End Production.
It is no secret that one of the more rousing numbers that can be found towards the end of the first act (Raise Your Voice) which was featured in the Tony Awards a year or two ago:
The show (much like the movie) revolves around one Deloris van Cartier (as played by Ta’Rea Campbell) and how she learns that being on stage and in the spotlight isn’t what it was all cracked up to be. Ta’Rea did a fantastic in carrying the show effortlessly and providing the growth from a girl desperate for attention and fame to finding someone who finds something more and helping those around her grow as well. She was engaging, has very good stage presence and most of all believable.
With plenty of strong voices and a respectable cast… who actually stole the show? Why the trio of goons as played by: Charles Barksdale (TJ), Todd A. Horman (Joey) and Ernie Pruneda (Pablo). We were given a taste of just how much fun there were as the back up trio for Kingsley Leggs (Curtis) in “When I Find My Baby”. But they really shined in the second act’s “Lady in the Long Black Dress”:
I mean seriously… I was rolling in the seats during this song.
I mean (and I know I am going off topic) if a community theatre production were to put on Sister Act the Musical the guys playing this trio could have a hell of a whole lot of fun with this number. Probably a lot more fun than the above… if that’s even possible.
Considering this was opening night in Chicago there were a few technical glitches here and there but my goodness I haven’t laughed so hard in such a long time. This was just fun on a stick that you can… well anyway.
My friend mentioned that he was most impressed with a few of the costume changes, in particular dealing with Sweaty Eddie (E. Clayton Cornelious) in his moment in the spotlight in “I Could Be That Guy”:
So of course this is where a major change in the storyline occurs… Deloris van Cartier gets a remnant of a romantic interest as she is trying to hide from her killer of a boyfriend.
But what about the song that was cut from the West End production that didn’t make it to the Broadway Production… well it was “How I Got My Calling”:
Which was replaced by “It’s Good to Be a Nun”:
Both were funny in different ways, but I would have preferred “How I Got My Calling” if only that it gave you an idea of how Postulent Sister Mary Roberts came to the church and eventually leading to her time in the spotlight in “The Life I Never Led”.
As you can see there is a hell of a whole lot of fun to be had with this particular musical.
Sister Act is only going to be around in Chicago until the 2nd of December so I would suggest getting your tickets as soon as possible. This is reasonably family friendly (and I say that cautiously) and just a lot of fun in the grand scheme of things. I was lucky to snatch myself a pair of tickets on the Broadway in Chicago’s monthly deal of $25 on the 25th where select shows have select seats available for $25 per seat and for me the price was a steal on so many levels.