"Welcome to church.” I got a sneak preview of Music Theatre of Denton’s new show, Sister Act, and was greeted by MTD’s marketing director Kristy Vivian at the door. She immediately showed me the decorations for the lobby, including a sign letting everyone know when mass would be, an altar (with beautiful flowers by Flowergarden), and even a confessional booth.
And I must confess, I enjoyed every minute of the toe-tapping musical featuring some true nunsense, based on the beloved 1990s movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Dame Maggie Smith.
Sister Act stars Tatiana John (Deloris Van Cartier), Brynne Huffman (Mary Patrick), Sementa Alldredge (Mary Robert) and Leigh Ann Stadt (Mary Lazarus) pose in a promotional photo. (Photo by Brad Sutton)
This musical features fresh new songs – most in that 1960s girl group style of music. It opens with Deloris Van Cartier auditioning to sing in the Philadelphia nightclub of her married lover Curtis. After Curtis (who is a gangster) rebukes her, she goes to break it off with him and accidentally walks in on him shooting someone for turning police informant. After Deloris goes to the police, Eddie Souther (who is a former high school classmate of Deloris) helps to hide her in a local convent.
Deloris makes waves in the convent as only a woman with a brash personality can in a room full of women devoted to the Lord. After a few fracases, Mother Superior sentences her to singing in the choir. Deloris quickly takes over the choir and transforms the out-of-tune nuns into a soul singin’, groovin’, harmonizin’ ensemble that eventually gets the attention of the Pontiff himself.
Sementa Alldredge shines as Mary Robert in Music Theatre of Denton's show Sister Act. (Photo by Brad Sutton)
The great thing about this ensemble cast is that it allows for development of all of the nuns, not just Deloris (played expertly by Tatiana John). Mother Superior (Pat Sherman), Mary Robert (Sementa Alldredge), Mary Patrick (Brynne Huffman) and Mary Lazarus (Leigh Ann Stadt) all get major character development. Mary Robert in particular, portrayed as a naïve postulant, begins questioning whether or not her calling is to be a nun and allows Alldredge to showcase her powerhouse vocals as she contemplates life outside the convent.
Another relationship that is much more fleshed out is the alluded-to (in the film) romance between Deloris and Lt. Souther. The musical is much more direct and allows for Souther (played by Anthony Ortega) to have a few songs while also courting Deloris and keeping her safe from Curtis and his henchmen.
This musical is also not devoid of its slapstick humor, especially in the “chase” sequences. These scenes were well choreographed and provided many laughs.
As Mother Superior says early in the show, “God loves us when we sing, even if it’s like that.” Keep singing like that, sisters. We’re all listening.
Sister Act will be showing February 24-26 and March 3-5 at the Campus Theatre. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sundays. Tickets are available here or by calling 940.382.1915. Make it a date night with dinner before the show at the show's sponsor, Abbey Inn Restaurant and Pub, just down Hickory Street from the theatre!