An Energizing Triumph!

by Lety Gonzalez

Michelle (Camryn Elias), Deloris Van Cartier (Adia Bell) and Tina (Page Mills)

Camryn Elias as Michelle, Adia Bell as Deloris Van Cartier, and Page Mills as Tina. Photo by Ed Flores, photo courtesy of Arizona Repertory Theatre.

Sister Act at the Arizona Repertory Theater is a feel-good show. Deloris Van Cartier takes refuge in a convent after witnessing her boyfriend Curtis murder one of his cronies. During her time there, she wins over the sisters with her boldness and confidence and they in turn show her love and friendship. Together they get down and boogie and sing to the man above.

All of the technical aspects of the show complemented each other and produced a great show. This was evident in the standing ovation that the audience offered to the actors at the end of the show. The lights did a brilliant job in setting the mood for each scene. Gobos that displayed a colorful stained glass pattern on the floor were used to indicate that the scene was taking place in a church. The transitions were timed well and the cast didn’t seem to run into any complications. The costume design was loud and glamourous. The beautiful sparkly gown that Deloris wore near the end is breathtaking. All of her costumes were fierce and sensual. I must note that it was entertaining to see the vestments of the nuns and the priest transform from their traditional black and white to glitter and bedazzled habits/cassocks. The orchestra was impeccable and the singers were confident.

When Deloris, portrayed by Adia Bell,  started to sing, I was taken aback. My mouth was gaping anytime anyone sang. I stared intently at each singer’s mouth. All of them were singing live, but they sounded so clear and pristine that there were times when I seriously thought that the music might be pre-recorded. That was not the case. Not only

Sister Mary Robert (Courtney Blanc) and Deloris Van Cartier (Adia Bell).

Courtney Blanc as Sister Mary Robert and Adia Bell as Deloris Van Cartier. Photo by Ed Flores, photo courtesy of Arizona Repertory Theatre.

were they singing, they were also dancing. The dance moves didn’t inhibit their singing ability. Sometimes the choreography can get in the way of the singer’s performance, but not in this show. Their groovy moves added to the live soulful music and their sound was full and balanced.

There were a couple of outstanding moments in the show. One of them was Eddie’s groovy solo. His deep crooning voice was like butter. Eddie’s quick and unexpected costume change during his silky number had some of the audience members behind me gasping. Another was the number in which Vince’s cronies are detailing how they would seduce the nuns. All of the songs sounded like they came right out of Motown. They were oozing with passion and desire. I’m surprised I was able to keep myself in my seat because I sure wanted to get up, find a partner, and dance to the music of love.

The lead character around whom the story revolves is portrayed by a young black woman.  Both the cast and crew are equally composed of women and men. The play was written by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner and directed by a woman, Christie Kerr. The rest of the season looks pretty solid. They are producing the play Top Girls which consists of an all- female cast. The other plays have a mix of gender-specific parts, but it appears there will be slightly more roles for the men than women. Overall it’s pretty even.

It’s always wonderful to witness a person of color in a lead role in any type of production. However, I left wishing I could have seen more people of color in the cast as a whole. Looking at the cast list, the members seem diverse, but looking out on stage, there weren’t many people of color. Looking at the cast list I found online I wonder if it was necessary for all of the nuns to be white presenting. There’s no indication in the story itself that all of the nuns should be white, other than following the precedent set by the film on which this musical is based, so that could have been an area with more diversity.

Musicals are difficult to execute. Transitions have got to be spot on, everyone needs to be on board and let me tell you, this whole cast was on board. The set transitions were

Pablo (Tony Moreno), Curtis (Zach Zupke) and Joey (Tristan Caldwell)

Tony Moreno as Pablo, Zach Zupke as Curtis, and Tristan Caldwell as Joey. Photo by Ed Flores, photo courtesy of Arizona Repertory Theatre.

quick and appeared effortless. The lighting design was brilliant and the dance numbers were simple, but effective. They moved together as one. The cast and crew were a finely tuned machine that cranked out the boogie and energized the audience.

If you need an energizing distraction from the current political atmosphere, check out Sister Act! The show runs from October 14th to November 4th. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 pm and Sunday shows start at 1:30 pm. On November 2nd there will be a post show discussion. General admission is $31.00, however they do have senior, military, UA Employee, and student discounts. If you wish to purchase tickets, please click on the link provided.

Raise your voice! VOTE.


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