Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sister Act Review

If you go to see “Sister Act,” now playing at the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres, because you want to see the movie “Sister Act,” upon which it is based, you’re going to be disappointed.

No, scratch that. You’re going to be delighted because you’ll get exactly what you came for, only a whole lot more.

The creators of this musical made the decision to keep the basic plot: a singer witnesses a murder and is sent to a convent for safekeeping until a mobster can be brought to trial. Both singer and sisters are changed for the better.

But those wonderful oldies sung in the movie have been replaced by original songs written by Alan Menken (yeah, that Alan Menken, the one who composed music for Disney’s “Little Mermaid,” “Alladin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and so much more), and a script by a couple of Emmy and Golden Globe winning geniuses who have written for, among other shows, “Cheers” and “Friends.”

What makes all these ingredients work for the Round Barn audience is Dee Selmore, who plays the aspiring singer Deloris Van Cartier. She is that rare performer who can both carry a show and challenge everyone in the cast to greater performances themselves. Selmore has some pretty big shoes to fill, considering the memorable actor who played her role in the movie, and she is up to the challenge.

The company doubles up on various roles, but the champion is Round Barn regular Don Hart. I lost track of the number of roles he played, as he carved out fresh characterizations with each quick costume change.

The writers have set the show in the 70s, an easy decade to lampoon because it had some of the worst fashions, worst music, and, thanks to the hilarious portrayal of the murderer’s henchmen, Martin Flowers, Travis Bird, and Justin Williams, the worst moves when it comes to dancing, dressing, and romancing. These three create characters who are legends in their own minds.

Ryan Schlisler is the brooding, yet convivial villain. He casts a long shadow over the plot, allowing Dee Selmore’s light to shine all the brigher.

Lauren Morgan transcends the versatility she’s brought to the several roles she’s played this season. As Sister Mary Martin-of-tours I simply did not recognize her, and wondered until intermission when I checked my program, what senior citizen they’d brought to play the wildly eccentric church choir pianist.

In fact the women’s ensemble playing the nuns is wonderfully strong, funny, and musical. My favorite number in the show, “Raise Your Voice,” is buoyed by the epiphany experienced by the sisters as Deloris teaches them to sing together. The lyrics, based on many songs I remember from my years in parochial school, are wickedly tongue twistery, if I can coin a phrase, leaving one amazed and amused.

Do not miss the musical “Sister Act” at the Round Barn Theatre. It is the highlight of the season so far.

Frank Ramirez, Lead Pastor, Union Center Church of the Brethren, is The Round Barn  Theatre's staff blogger.

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