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Theater Review: "Sister Act"

Daebreon Poiema (center) and The Sisters
Photo credit:
Ken Jacques

A wannabe club singer who had the bad taste to date a shady club owner with murderous tendencies is in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses a murder by her “boyfriend.” She hotfoots it to the cops, who put her in the witness protection program and move her to a convent to hide out.

I can hear your eyebrows raising. A convent, you say? Yes, it’s “Sister Act” back again, with what will soon become the swingin’est convent choir in history. They will bust some pretty spiffy dance moves too.

But first, imagine the chaos and headaches for poor Mother Superior (Victoria Strong), who has spent her life away from the lewd behavior and loose talk she encounters from Deloris Van Cartier (Daebreon Poiema), this singer from the sinful bars of Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, back at the diocese, the church is in danger of being sold to two developer types for lack of, well, attendance at services. To top that off, the good Monsignor (Jim Chovick) reminds the complaining Mother Superior that “you swore a vow of charity.”

“I take it back!” she says.

But she takes Deloris in, explains that she must stay in her room at all times except for meals and prayer, and when that doesn’t work, relegates her to the choir. It happens to be the world’s worst choir, full of women with apparent tin ears and no sense of rhythm. But that won’t stop Deloris.

She will make a capital-C Choir out of these seemingly talent-free but devoted nuns, one that will be invited to sing for Pope Paul VI when he visits Philly.

It’s a crazy plot idea (though, come to think of it, not much nuttier than “The Sound Of Music”), based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, with lots of upbeat music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater.

If, after a while, the music starts to sound pretty much alike, well, at least it’s jolly stuff and gives the good nuns a chance to show off.

There’s a romantic subplot here between Deloris (aka Sister Mary Clarence, the protector of prisoners) and Cornelius Jones, Jr.’s “Sweaty Eddie” (who’s been in love with her for a very long time, but she’s never had time for him until now). And the hoods (Edred Utomi, Greg Nicholas and Gerardo Flores-Tonella) keep wandering in and out, looking for Deloris.

Meanwhile, Sarah Errington plays young Sister Mary Robert, encouraged by Deloris to go out into the world to make sure “The Life I Never Led” isn’t the one she really wants, or whether the nuns are right that “the world’s your oyster when you’re locked in a cloister,” as they sing in “It’s Good To Be A Nun.”

The cast is excellent overall, as are conductor Lyndon Pugeda’s 16-member orchestra and the contributions of the technical team.

But mainly, Deloris leaves the convent with the irrefutable accomplishment of “putting the sis back in Genesis.”

How bad can that be?

The details

“Sister Act” plays through July 2, 2016 at Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive in Vista.

June 15 - 26: Wednesday through Sunday at 8 pm; June 30-July 2: Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm

Gates open for picnicking and dining at 6:30 pm

Tickets: (760) 724-2110 or www.moonlightstage.com