Lightweight “Sister Act” Is Elevated By Cast And Production Values At Stages


Photo: Peter Wochniak

Stages St. Louis closes their 30th Anniversary season with a frothy treat- “Sister Act.” Like “Nunsense,” it appeals to the Catholic crowd with a lot of references that may be funny only to people who were raised in that faith. But, despite the lightweight nature of the show, Stages has brought their “A” game once again. Michael Hamilton has directed with a flair for silliness and the Stephen Bourneuf choreography excels.


Steve Isom is somewhat shocked to find Corrine Melancon in his usual spot in the confessional as she listens to Dan’Yelle Williamson. Photo: Peter Wochniak

For those who remember the Whoopi Goldberg film and the sequel, this is pretty close to the original with a Las Vegas showgirl- Deloris Van Cartier- who witnesses her boss and boyfriend kill one of his gang members. When he finds out, one police officer in particular takes Deloris under his wing and gets her into a semi-witness protection program. He puts her in a convent and disguises her as a nun and only the Mother Superior knows her real identity. Deloris takes on the challenge of making the choir of nuns turn from off-key attempts at hymns to a more upbeat approach including choreography and specialty numbers. It works and eventually even gets the attention of the Pope. But her identity gets blown due to the publicity and a final confrontation when the gun is put to her head. But it’s a musical so everything turns out alright.


Kevin Curtis, Keith Boyer, Myles McHale and Kent Overshown in “Sister Act” at Stages-St. Louis. Photo: Peter Wochniak

Danielle Williamson as Deloris is nothing short of spectacular or, as she says in song, “Fabulous, Baby.” She glides and bounces around the stage- even in a nun’s habit- at break-neck speed. She is full of life in leading the nuns in numbers such as “Raise Your Voice” and “Take Me To Heaven” (a retooled number from her Vegas act) and then the curtain call number, “Spread The Love Around.” As the reluctant and often scandalized Mother Superior, Corrine Melancon is a gift from heaven as well. She gets a couple of meaty, thoughtful musical numbers as well including “Here Within These Walls” and “I Haven’t Got A Prayer.”


Dan’Yelle Williamson and Corinne Melancon in the Stages-St. Louis production of “Sister Act.” Photo: Peter Wochniak

Steve Isom kills it as the Monsignor who has obviously been secretly hoping for his big chance as he really gets into the musical numbers along with the nuns with a great deal of relish. Deloris’ mobster boyfriend is played with a sweet, menacing touch by Kent Overshown and his little band of gangsters- Myles McHale, Keith Boyer, Kevin Curtis and John Flack. Poor Mr. Flack is the early victim of the trigger happy Curtis (Overshown) but not to worry, he gets a very special role near show’s end. Curtis Wiley shines as the protector of Deloris as he has obviously fallen for her and gets a great specialty number, “I Could Be That Guy.”


The newest “nun” (Dan’Yelle Williamson) has her own way of saying grace at the dinner table in “Sister Act” at Stages-St. Louis. Photo: Peter Wochniak

It’s all about the nuns in this one and they are a happy, bouncy group including the shy Sister Mary Robert (Leah Berry), Michele Burdette Elmore in a wonderful turn as Sister Mary Lazarus, Sarah Michelle Cuc as Sister Mary Patrick, and a “host” of others featuring Kari Ely, Peggy Billo, Morgan Amiel Faulkner, Angela Sapolis, Julia Johanos, Paula Landry, Laura Ernst, Erin Kelley, April Strelinger and Jessie Hooker. Both Ms Faulkner and Ms Hooker also play Deloris’ back up singers in Vegas. Lots of great folks in the ensemble as well- a Stages hallmark.

The big question is- how do you make a nuns habit interesting? Well, costumer Brad Musgrove has solved that problem with sequins and outrageous colors. From burgundy glitter to blue sequins to heavenly white habits, he has transformed this indistinct little cloister to “fully clothed” showgirls for their popular Sunday morning singing. The James Wolk set design is very versatile featuring a sliding “break away” church edifice that converts to all of the Vegas stages, police precincts, apartments and every nook and cranny of the convent. And the Sean M. Savoie lights are spectacular as well. Add the musical direction of Lisa Campbell Albert and you’ve got a show.


Deloris Van Cartier in her Vegas act during the Stages-St. Louis production of “Sister Act.” Photo: Peter Wochniak.

“Sister Act” is a no-brainer. Just sit back and let the glitz and glamour of Vegas and, eventually, Queen of Angels Cathedral take you away for a few hours. You’ll get some laughs, some outstanding musical numbers and powerful performances from a cast that obviously enjoys what they’re doing. “Sister Act” plays at Stages-St. Louis through October 9th. Give them a call at 314-821-2407 for tickets or more information.


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