The stage musical adaptation of the hit Whoopi Goldberg film “Sister Act’ was never my first choice to see when it played on Broadway. It was never my second or third choice either on theater-intensive trips there.
When given a choice, I tend to dodge such adapted-from-the-movies musicals that seem built from title recognition rather than the passion of a creative team.
I’m happy to report, though, that, in a solidly entertaining Equity touring production, “Sister Act” (through March 3 at the Murat) exceeded my expectations.
The makers of “Sister Act” know that audiences aren’t coming to it to see the formula tweaked. They’re looking for a feel-good film brought to life on stage with something to compensate for the lack of stars and familiar songs. They get that and more not because of a terribly original story (Think “Some Like It Hot” meets “Nunsense”) or a memorable star turn.
Instead, “Sister Act” succeeds through a combination of energetic-but-not-frantic pacing, some fun lyrics, dynamic music (in the Disney musical vein—thanks to composer Alan Menken) and a professional, well-cast supporting that never made it feel like we’re just another stop on a whirlwind tour.
The spiritual head of the charming supporting cast is Chicago mainstay Hollis Resnik as the Mother Superior, offering an object lesson in how a barely sketched character can come to life when given to the right actress. Her presence helps balance a show, giving important weight (well, lightweight) to the subplot about the growing respect and friendship that develops between her and in-hiding party gal Deloris Von Cartier (Ta’rea Campbell).
While it might not stand out critically when “The Book of Mormon” is down the block on Broadway, this “Sister Act” went a long way to converting this non-believer to its charms.