Riverside Center Dinner Theater presents Sister Act, a musical based on the Touchstone Pictures Motion Picture written by Joseph Howard. Music for this production is by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Cheri and Bill Steinkeliner and Douglas Carter Beane. Patti D’Beck directs and choreographs this super-charged production.
This production is a special one for Riverside– not only are they one of the first regional theatres in the U.S. to gain the rights to produce Sister Act, but they are the ONLY theatre in the DC Metropolitan area that has it! Another first for Riverside is the orchestra pit that accompanies this production, conducted by Musical Director Garrett Jones.
Set in Philadelphia in 1978, Scenic Designer J.D. Madsen uses a variety of wheeled set-pieces to enhance smaller scenes, but the most lovely setting was that of the Queen of Angels Cathedral, with realistic marble columns and beautiful religious artwork. I also enjoyed the large tinsel-fringe curtain, which went perfectly with disco lighting by designer Michael Jarett. Costume Designer Gaye Law does a fine job representing the 1970s with wide-legged body suits and bold patterns– before switching to nun habits, that is!
In the opening song “Take Me to Heaven,” we meet Deloris Van Cartier, a strong singer who is eager for fame and success but is being held down by her thug boyfriend, Curtis Jackson (Brian Maurice Forbes). I was thrilled when I discovered that Deloris was being played by Felicia Curry, who I have had the pleasure of seeing in a number of shows and who I have always enjoyed. I knew that she would handle this character fantastically, and I was not disappointed! Felicia Curry’s powerhouse vocals and excellent comedic timing were a joy to watch! It’s a tour de force performance that you have to see and hear!
Deloris decides to leave Curtis in the song “Fabulous, Baby!” but her plans are cut short when, upon leaving, she witnesses Curtis murder one of his cronies! With her life now in imminent danger, the police must hide Deloris where Curtis cannot find her– and they choose a convent! However, Deloris’ bold personality clashes fantastically with her new environment, and she must find a way to blend in before the impatient Mother Superior (a surprisingly sassy performance by Barbara Pinolini) gives up on her cause. As it turns out, the convent’s choir is in pitiful shape, and the situation is so bad that the convent is about to be sold! A desperate Mother Superior begrudgingly hands Deloris (re-christened “Sister Mary Clarence”) the reins to the church choir. Can Deloris’ musical expertise help raise up the church…and can her new friends perhaps return the favor?
I really enjoyed Sister Act very much– the cast was talented and the material was a lot of fun!
One of the best-received and divinely-performed numbers in this show was “Raise Your Voice,” where Deloris encourages her fellow Sisters to find their inner confidence. Some great 70’s dance moves can be seen in the number “When I Find My Baby,” as well as the very enjoyable “Sunday Morning Fever.”
Matthew Lincoln-Bugg stole scenes as the funny TJ, and Leah Gesouras is great as the enthusiastic and animated Sister Mary Patrick. I also enjoyed Kathy Halenda as the cantankerous Sister Mary Lazarus, and Kylie Arnold does a fine job as the timid and polite Sister Mary Robert.
For a heavenly night of entertainment, run and buy tickets to Riverside Center Dinner Theater’s uproarious production of Sister Act! Tickets are selling fast so grab some now!
Running Time: Approximately 3 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Sister Act plays through November 8, 2015 at Riverside Center Dinner Theatre – 95 Riverside Parkway, in Fredericksburg, VA. To make a reservation and to purchase your tickets, call the box office at (540) 370-4300.