Nuns abound in Port Tobacco Players’ ‘Sister Act’
‘Sister Act’ musical opens this weekend, continues through July
Music, murder, dancing nuns and more are being served up this month at the Port Tobacco Players Theater in La Plata, as the musical comedy “Sister Act” opens tonight.
“Sister Act” runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. from now until July 30 at the Port Tobacco Players Theater, 508 Charles Street in La Plata. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors and members of the military.
“It is fun, uplifting, heartwarming and, at the same time, funny — and really takes you through a roller coaster of emotions throughout the show,” said Benjamin Gahan, director and choreographer for the show. “There’s the feeling of family and giving in to a situation you never thought you would give in to, only to find that maybe that’s the place you really supposed to be.”
The musical “Sister Act” is based on the 1992 movie of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg. Set in the 1970s, it tells the story of aspiring lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier, who witnesses a murder. Police send her to the Queen of Angels Cathedral to hide in the attached convent until it is time for her to testify.
While at the convent, she poses as Sister Mary Clarence, a nun who clashes with the conservative Mother Superior.
As punishment for a transgression, the Mother Superior puts Van Cartier in charge of the convent’s choir. Introducing the struggling choir to gospel, rock and roll music and dance, the choir becomes extremely popular, attracting media attention.
The publicity risks putting Van Cartier in danger, as her ex-boyfriend, the mobster Curtis, knows she witnessed the murder he committed and wants to make sure she never testifies.
Corisa Myers plays Van Cartier as she struggles to adapt to life in the convent and learn the value of sisterhood.
“She’s a star wannabe. She’s been waiting too long for her turn,” Myers said. “She finds it, but it’s in a different environment from where she’d hoped it would be.”
Myers said she really connected with her character wanting to live out her dreams.
“I took a hiatus from performing, so over the past three years, I’ve gotten back into performing, so I really connected with her in that we’re both reaching for a dream,” Myers said.
Myers said she is very familiar with the 1992 movie, but did not want to copy Goldberg.
“I loved the movie, but when I’m working with a character, I try not to copy another person’s portrayal,” Myers said. “It influences me, it informs me in terms of comedic decisions, where I want to go with the character, but I really try to take what they’ve done and put my own spin on it.”
Playing the lead in a musical can be challenging, but Myers said her castmates made it easier.
“This cast has been amazing,” Myers said. “I really picked up their energy, and seeing them on point pushes me to be on point.”
Carol Charnock plays the Mother Superior, a role not dissimilar to her role in other shows, including playing the Reverent Mother in the “Nunsense” productions.
“I have played nuns more than I’d like to confess,” Charnock said. “Being a Reverend Mother or Mother Superior just comes naturally at this point.”
Charnock said the Mother Superior finds many things challenged by Van Cartier’s presence.
“She’s been a Catholic all her life, and she runs the convent with a very firm hand, but underneath it all, she loves all of these women, and all she wants to do is protect them and make sure they are Godly women. Deloris comes in and throws her entire life in turmoil,” Charnock said. “Then she sees how the other nuns react to her, and thinks, maybe the world isn’t so black and white; maybe there is room for change.”
Kaitlin Harbon plays Sister Mary Robert, a shy postulant at the convent who is encouraged by Van Cartier to come out of her shell and challenge authority.
“She’s very quiet and she’s always done everything she was supposed to; she grew up in the convent,” Harbon said. “I think she has those moments of wanting to come out a little bit, then going back into her shell, so I like that she peeks in and out throughout the show.”
Harbon said it was a challenge playing such a quiet character.
“Finding her quiet side was a little harder for me, but I really like her, I think she’s fun,” Harbon said.
Gahan said the Port Tobacco Players are the first theater in the greater Washington, D.C. area to get the rights to perform “Sister Act.”
“It’s been done in the high schools, but not yet at even the community theater level,” Gahan said.
The director said he first heard the London cast album of the musical five or six years ago.
“It was so much fun and enjoyable, that I really wanted to direct it,” Gahan noted, adding that the musical is full of funny and heartwarming moments.
“It really spoke to me, growing up Catholic and attending Archbishop Neale,” he said. “I had nuns for teachers, so it was very nostalgic.”
Corisa Myers (portraying Deloris Van Cartier) leads the nuns of Queen of Angels Cathedral in the Port Tobacco Players’ production of the musical “Sister Act,” opening this weekend.
The nuns of the Queen of Angels Cathedral convent attempt to convince Deloris Van Cartier, played by Corisa Myers, center, of the joys of cloistered life, in the Port Tobacco Players’ musical “Sister Act.”
At right, Deloris Van Cartier, played by Corisa Myers, tries the patience of the Mother Superior, played by Carol Charnock, in the Port Tobacco Players’ production of the musical “Sister Act,” which begins this weekend.
In front, mob boss Curtis, played by Kenneth L. Waters Jr., tells his henchmen Pablo, T.J. and Joey, played by Dominic Delcoco, Archie Parker and J.R. Cook, respectively, about his plans.
Deloris Van Cartier, played by Corisa Myers, left, leads the convent choir in the Port Tobacco Players’ production of the musical “Sister Act.”