The spring musical returns to OPRF with Sister Act

OPRF has been putting on spring musicals for around two decades. In previous years, productions included “Hairspray,” “Chicago,” “Newsies,” and “Working,” produced virtually last year. For the first in-person musical since the pandemic began in 2020, they took on “Sister Act.”

“Sister Act” tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, an up-and-coming nightclub singer in a “loving but dangerous relationship” with Vince LaRocca, says Terria O’Neal, who played Deloris. After Deloris sees her gangster boyfriend kill someone, she has to go into witness protection and hides in a convent as a nun.

While hiding there, she reforms the nun’s choir and learns the value of a community she can lean on.

“Primarily, it’s a fun, feel-good show,” says Audrey Johnston, who played Sister Mary Roberts, a nun who comes out of her shell with the help of Deloris.

Michelle Bayer, head of the theater department and director of “Sister Act”, said they“needed a show semi-post pandemic that was fun and exciting and has a positive message of belonging and community.” Bayer also liked that it is a“heavy female-identifying show” and “has a racially diverse cast.”

Like all productions, “Sister Act” had its hiccups. Auditions started at the end of first semester, but then activities were canceled the weekend before callbacks.

“Callbacks had to be virtual,” Johnston said. “We were a bit worried that the school would leave the extracurriculars shut down and that the show wouldn’t happen.”

However, Bayer was not as concerned. “We only lost one day. If it had been longer, we would’ve had a bigger problem.”
Once production started back up, it didn’t stop until the performances.

“It was an everyday commitment, and sometimes Saturdays,” Johnston said. Especially near the end of the rehearsal process, it was easy to lose motivation. “It got really tiring, and there were some long nights,” Johnston said.

O’Neal said “the support of my friends and my director and castmates allowed me to see the joy in this show.”

Johnston also noted the value of a great cast. “I’ve been able to meet so many new people, freshmen, sophomores.”

All the hard work in rehearsals paid off. The cast and crew of “Sister Act” performed four wonderful shows March 6, 7, 11, and 12. Performers’ infectious energy kept the audience laughing and clapping along.

“It was a show full of adrenaline,” O’Neal says. “And once you get the audience in there, you’re feeding off their energy, their laughter, and it makes the show even better.

“I found a love for something I never want to let go of” in theater, O’Neal said.

“I think people forget the joy of seeing live theater,” said Johnston, “and I think everyone should see a show.”