Bellerose High Musical Theatre
Dec. 13 to 15
Timms Centre for the Arts
87 Ave. and 112 St.
Tickets: $4 to $20. Call 780-420-1757 or at tixonthesquare.ca
If you are a musical and comedy fan, you can rejoice at the news the iconic Sister Act musical is finally coming to Edmonton.
Bellerose High Musical Theatre mounts this uplifting, spirited production from Dec. 13 to 15 at the Timms Centre for the Arts.
Sister Act is a musical theatre production based on the 1992 hit film that earned Whoopi Goldberg her third Golden Globe nomination.
In the film, Goldberg portrays Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub singer who hides in a convent after witnessing a murder.
Along with quirky nuns learning to sing stirring songs with bootie shakin’ bravado, the musical features an original ’70s score from the legendary award-winning team of Alan Menken and Glen Slater.
“We have a small amount of males this year and we were looking for a show that was primarily female oriented. We did our research, and even though we are not part of a religious district, this is about finding your path in life. Deloris goes from being very self-centred to putting her life on the line for the nuns,” said director Juanita McGarrigle.
Deloris is an aspiring disco diva who sees Curtis, her gangster boyfriend, kill a man in cold blood. Realizing there is a witness, Curtis sends his underlings to kill her.
With the goon squad at her back, Deloris runs to the police. Officer Eddie Souther, a shy, nervous man who has had a crush on Deloris since high school, puts her in witness protection at a convent.
The brash, cocksure Deloris immediately clashes with the more reserved Mother Superior who basically views the convent’s new addition as a troublemaker.
But after developing friendships with her wimple-clad friends, Deloris retools the nun’s flat-sounding choir into a sophisticated unit that sings with soulful energy and vibrant choreography.
Although Deloris and Mother Superior initially clash, they grow to accept each other.
“Deloris realizes she wants more out of life than her own glory, and Mother Superior realizes Deloris is not as bad as she thought.”
Many may be surprised to learn the joyous I Will Follow Him, a centrepiece song from the movie, is not included in this production.
“Due to licensing rights, it was not available. But we still have some catchy, great songs, and I’m having a hard time getting them out of my mind,” chuckles McGarrigle.
Another key difference is that this production’s Deloris is Megan Durand, 17. The Grade 12 student is white, and in a politically correct climate that parses roles as much for colour as talent, the Gazette inquired if this could attract negative attention.
McGarrigle explained the school contacted the company that provides licensing rights and that spokespersons explained that in a singular race community, exceptions are made.
“You can adjust the character to fit the clientele or have them be a foreigner and not part of the same society. Since the story takes place in Philadelphia, we came up with the idea she’s Canadian. Some of the lines have been adapted and changed to fit the story,” McGarrigle said.
“The idea is it is about who she is, rather than the colour. She’s focused on a job and career. For her to be accepted is more about her personality than her race.”
Both Durand and Sarah Johnson, 17, as Mother Superior have extensive musical theatre training to carry demanding lead parts.
“Megan’s vocal range is slightly higher than Sarah’s, however both have the vocal chops to pull off their role.”
Maxwell Kortzman, 17, plays the affable Officer Eddie, while Christiana Anderst, 15, takes on the role of Mary Robert, the shy postulant transformed into a powerful vocalist.
And Jonathan Faulkner, 18, is Curtis, the shady nightclub owner.
“Curtis is pure evil. He’s an angry mafia guy. When everything is under his control, he’s fine – but when he loses control, he’s very angry.”
Many departments within the school pitched in to create the production. Twelve fashion studies students stitched the nuns' costumes and the more intricate papal robes as well as Deloris’ wig.
And the production crew of 14 has planned and built a complex set that doubles as a church, night club, alley, police station and dining room to name a few.
“It’s smartly written with funny moments. It’s going to be a visual treat.”