“Sister Act” Anoints Audiences with Glorious Gags & Lots of Laughs
By Keith Spencer with Photos by Paul Lyden for NSMT
BEVERLY – There’s a divine intervention taking place at North Shore Music Theatre as the glory and splendor of Sister Act takes over Beverly’s theatre-in-the-round through November 15. The show’s debut left audiences laughing and lauding all night long with a cast of impressive voices and superb choreography and direction by Kevin Hill.
If you’re a fan of the film, don’t fret as the memorable characters brought to life on the big screen return in the musical stage version that includes a book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner with Douglas Carter Beane, witty lyrics by Glenn Slater, and entirely new music and melodies from Alan Menken.
The cast is led by the supremely talented Jeannette Bayardelle who plays Deloris Van Cartier, a Philadelphia nightclub singer who witnesses a murder committed by her gangster boyfriend and his henchmen that forces her into hiding. In a complete reversal of lifestyles, she finds refuge in a convent where hijinks and hilarity ensue.
Bayardelle delivers each and every one-liner with a wit and whimsy while always remaining perfectly on pitch. She truly shines when accompanied by Ellen Harvey who plays her convent counterpart and guardian, Mother Superior. The dynamic developed by the duo provides an appropriate balance of prim and proper with the completely asinine that a plot like Sister Act requires.
It’s clear Bayrdelle and Harvey delve deep into their characterizations as their performances were powerful including the beautiful duet “Here Within These Walls” and splendid solos on “I Haven’t Got a Prayer” and “Sister Act” by Harvey and Bayrdelle respectively. Their performances were an undeniable demonstration of why both were cast in the production.
What makes Sister Act a truly special experience is the considerably large cast of eccentric nuns who come under the influence of Deloris as she leads their choir in a revolution to reignite a love for their church that is facing a potential closing. The immensely animated portrayals by the choir and other supporting characters was highlighted during the rollicking, up-tempo hymn “Take Me To Heaven” and the sexy, soulful, seventies-inspired song “Sunday Morning Fever” which opens the second act.
Various stand-alone performances also demonstrate the vast talent of the cast, including Tina Johnson as Sister Mary Lazarus and Lael Van Keuren’s as Sister Mary Robert who comes out of her shell with a powerful vocal performance in “The Life I Never Led”. Jennie Boone also shines as the soprano Sister Mary Park who offers some of the best vocals of the evening alongside her wacky costars who bring down the house as an ensemble on “It’s Good to Be a Nun”, “Bless Our Show”, and “Raise Your Voice”.
Kyle Robert Carter’s good looks and boyish charm adds an innocence to the production that has audiences rooting for his Sweaty Eddie character, the neighborhood kid turned cop who is guarding and protecting his high school crush. The gangster boyfriend Curtis is played by Jonathan Kirkland who boasts a killer baritone voice on “When I Find My Baby” that adds a seriously sinister side to the musical. He is flanked by his obnoxious nephew TJ whose every line and move makes Avionce Hoyles yet another standout performer. The cast was rounded out with a special appearance by NSMT owner and producer Bill Hanney who appeared dressed in white during the finale number as Pope Paul VI.
This joyful show offers a glorious way to spend an evening laughing and loving this North of Boston theatre and the conclusion to its 2015 musical season. Performances of Sister Act at NSMT continue through Nov. 15 with tickets available here.
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When? November 3 through November 15, 2015 with performances Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30PM, Friday & Saturday at 8PM, and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM.
Where? The North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA
Cost? Tickets for Sister Act are priced from $54 – $79
For tickets and information, call (978) 232-7200 or visit www.nsmt.org.
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The cast of Sister Act will be led by Jeannette Bayardelle as Deloris Van Cartier and Ellen Harvey as Mother Superior. The cast also features Avionce (TJ), Brent Bateman (Joey), Kyle Robert Carter (Eddie Souther), Jennie Joefree (Sister Mary Patrick), Tina Johnson (Sister Mary Lazarus), Nikko Kimzin (Pablo), Jonathan Kirkland (Curtis Jackson), Richard Pruitt (Monsignor O’Hara), and Lael Van Keuren (Sister Mary Robert).
The ensemble includes Anthony Alfardo, Stephanie Burkett Gerson, Nick Cirillo (Ernie), Patrick Clanton, Katie Finan, Victoria Huston-Elem, Molly Keane-Dreyer, Mary Claire King (Michelle), Rebecca Kuznick, Caitlin Mesiano, Wonu Ogunfowora (Tina), Ellen Peterson, and Tara Tagliaferro (Sister Mary Martin-Of-Tours),
Sister Act will be directed and choreographed by Kevin P. Hill. The creative team also includes Andrew Bryan (Musical Director), Nate Bertone (Scenic Design), Jeff Hendry (Original Costume Design), Paula Peasley-Ninestein (Costume Coordinator/Resident Costume Designer), Richard Latta (Lighting Design), Leon Rothenberg (Sound Design), Gerard Kelly (Wig and Hair Design), Eileen F. Haggerty (Production Stage Manager), Amanda M. Stuart (Assistant Stage Manager), Adrian Ries (Assistant Music Director), and Binder Casting (Casting). SISTER ACT is produced for North Shore Music Theatre by Bill Hanney (Owner/Producer), Kevin P. Hill (Artistic Director), and Tom Amos (Associate Producer).
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Subscribe now to the just announced 2016 season which kicks off in June and includes Funny Girl, Mary Poppins, Singin’ in the Rain, Monty Python’s Spamalot, and West Side Story.”
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Since 1955, NSMT has become one of the most attended theatres in New England, with approximately 250,000 patrons annually. With a national and regional reputation for artistic achievement, NSMT has received numerous industry awards including Elliot Norton Awards, IRNE Awards, the Rosetta Le Noire Award from Actors’ Equity, and the Moss Hart Award. NSMT produced the World Premiere of Memphis in 2003, the show went on to win four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Under the new ownership of Bill Hanney in 2010, NSMT continues to annually produce a musical subscription series and an annual production of A Christmas Carol along with celebrity concerts and children’s programming.
For tickets and information call (978) 232-7200 or visit www.nsmt.org.