Review: Sister Act offers heavenly entertainment

The blue curtains in OPRF’s auditorium swayed with closing night buzz. The audience was alive with anticipation for the lights to lower. From where I sat, the theater was a whole new world. I had been waiting for my chance to see “Sister Act” since auditions, as I was sure the comedic musical would be rocked by OPRF theater. The grandiose church arch that hung over the stage was showstopping, and it was the first picture of what the show was going to be; a joyous celebration of ’70s church culture with flashy costumes and choreography.

The opening number “Take Me To Heaven” perfectly showed off Terria O’Neal’s Deloris Van Cartier vocals – well-suited to ’70s girl group style, while also being filled with heart.

Deloris was enduring, funny, and all around a great character. O’Neal shined in her role, carrying the narrative beautifully with a bit of fun and sass. She confidently led complicated dance numbers, balancing it well with beautiful ballads. You couldn’t help but be impressed with her commitment; O’Neal never missed a note, dance step, or line.

Furthermore, my eyes were drawn to Michelle and Tina (Cameren Truelove and Roya Gharavi), her two background dancers. They were hilarious. Full of physical comedy and great facial expressions, these two were a perfect pair to complement Dolores while also having their own personalities and styles.

Officer Eddie, as played by Joshua Bonds, was a bumbling cop not only hilarious but filled with heart and personality. He lit up the stage every time he was on it. In a show supposed to be focused on Deloris, you could not help but want to see more of ‘sweaty Eddie.’

This all culminated in his song “I Could Be That Guy.” It appeared to be another slow ballad – until he tore away his officer uniform to reveal a blinding white suit. He moon walked and danced across the stage, truly being ‘That Guy.” This reviewer was left stunned, as his vocals, acting, and dancing made him the standout performer of the night. Even his love story with Dolores was well crafted and believable. By the end of Act 2 you were truly rooting for the two of them in a way that felt romantic and authentic.

Let’s get to the real “Sister Act,” shall we? The nuns of this convent were a pure joy to watch. Every scene with the timid Sister Mary Roberts (Audrey Johnston), bold Sister Mary Patrick (Sitota Blomquist), and laugh-inducing Sister Mary Lazurus (Hannah Zavalkoff) was attention grabbing and hilarious. The sisters’ number “It’s Good To Be A Nun” was a great introduction to their characters and showed off their angelic vocals.

But, the best part of watching the nuns was the sense of camaraderie among them. They were a joy to watch in every number, and beautifully pulled off the final showdown between Deloris and her gangster boyfriend Curtis (Blake Donalson).

Another standout was Mother Superior, played by Sydney Germany. Mother Superior’s stiff rule-following makes her a wonderful foil to Deloris’ carefree attitude. Every time Germany was on stage you could feel the care and exasperation. Her acting felt authentic in every scene, and she was absolutely magnetic to watch.

In particular, her first song with Deloris, “Here Within These Walls,” was a beautiful ballad about the sheltered nuns. It showed her character and her pure, almost ethereal vocals as a complement to her acting. Mother Superior was the most consistently funny character, as her delivery was always perfect.

“Sister Act” surpassed my expectations and left me feeling hopeful and closer to my fellow “sisters.” I’m so glad I got to see this fantastic production and go on the ride with these characters. They were enduring, and well acted. I’m so glad to see OPRF theater back again in full “fabulous” form!

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