Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Sister Act" at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

Amazing things can happen when women stand together and raise their voices, something we've witnessed recently with all of the sexual harassment and assault experiences that have been coming forward. On the musical theater front, when the women standing together are some of the most talented in #TCTheater, and they're raising their voices in the joyous musical adaptation of the movie Sister Act, it's a very amazing thing. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is bringing back their smash hit from 2015 with mostly the same cast, but while the show might be the same, the world is a much different place than it was two years ago. This beautiful story of sisterhood, friendship, community, and standing up together and raising your voices for joy, love, and faith, may be needed more now than it ever was.

Last time I gave you ten reasons to see Sister Act, and they still apply, so I'll share them again (with some minor modifications):
Regina Marie Williams and Norah
Long (photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp)
  1. If you liked the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg (click here for plot summary if you haven't seen it), you'll be pleased at how well it translates to the stage. Movies with music at the heart of them are a more natural fit to musical adaptation; the songs don't seem forced but fit the characters and story organically. Plus, all of the humor and fun of the movie is present on the stage.
  2. Whoopi Goldberg's shoes are hard ones to fill (not to mention Patina Miller's), but Regina Marie Williams does so with aplomb in the reprise of her Chanhassen debut role. She's got the charisma, comic timing, and vocal chops needed for the role. I can think of no one better to bring Deloris to life.
  3. Norah Long is as serenely beautiful playing Mother Superior as she was playing Mother Nature. She is the grounding and calming center of this whirlwind, but with a dry wit and a heavenly voice.
  4. The supporting cast and ensemble is, to quote the show, "Fabulous, Baby!" with familiar faces and newcomers to the Chanhassen stage. To name just a few - Andre Shoals as the bad guy you love to hate; his super smooth back-up trio consisting of Mathias Anderson, Fernando Collado, and Kasano Mwanza; Chan fave Keith Rice as the Monsignor; and all of the wonderful women playing the sisters (most notably the powerfully voiced Britta Ollmann and the hilarious Therese Walth and Seri Johnson). And coming off of the long run of Grease, which featured one person of color in the cast, it's really great to see more diversity on the Chanhassen stage. Let's hope they continue that trend even when the script doesn't explicitly call for it.
  5. Alan Menken's original score is filled with up-tempo numbers and retro '70s disco, soul, and Motown that'll have you moving and grooving in your seat, thanks to the dynamite onstage band directed by Richard Long.
  6. Like the score, the costumes are also pretty '70s-tastic, with bell bottoms, wide collars, platform shoes, and sparkling habits (costume design by Rich Hamson).
  7. There are singing nuns on stage. But not only do they sing, they also dance (choreography by Tamara Kangas Erickson), crack jokes, and embody a beautiful and inspiring spirit of sisterhood, faith, and joy.
  8. Someone brings you dessert at intermission. What's better than that?!
  9. The Chan, and this show in particular, is a great option for a group outing. I organized a group of 15 old friends, many of whom haven't seen each other in years, for a "Girls' Night Out at the Theater" event. But regardless of gender identity, time of day, or relationship, this is a fun, communal show to bring a group to, and the in-theater pre-show dining makes it easy to make a night of it without worrying about getting from the restaurant to the theater in time.
  10. The show is truly joyous and an all around good time, but might also bring tears to your eyes with it's message of faith, sisterhood, community, and standing with the ones you love in the face of danger and fear. And maybe at a time when tragedies and disappointments seem to occur every day, this is exactly what you need to cling to and remind you of the good that is possible in the world. As always, but perhaps more so at this current moment, it's a pretty fabulous thing to see women standing up for each other against a man who is trying to hurt them, no matter the consequences.
Deloris (Regina Marie Williams) leads the nuns in song
(photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp)
Sister Act continues at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres through February 24.

the Chanhassen is a great location for "Girls Night Out at the Theater"
or any group event