Nuns abound in Port To­bacco Play­ers’ ‘Sis­ter Act’

‘Sis­ter Act’ mu­si­cal opens this week­end, con­tin­ues through July

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.”

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