For the past two days, I’ve been fighting a cold that’s left my head afog and my nose asnot. I strongly considered ditching not just Sister Act, but this whole day. I wanted to curl under the covers with a box of Kleenex and try it all again tomorrow.
But I couldn’t. There was too much to do, and I couldn’t miss out on an evening of theater, no matter how sneezy I might be. So I drug myself out of bed, bumbled through work and met up with dear friends for Sister Act at the Old National Centre. I’m so glad I did. This morning while I moped under my covers, I forgot that two of the best treatments for sickness of the body or of the soul are music and laughter. Sister Act delivers both in spades.
For those of you who only have misty memories of the 1992 source movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, that’s okay. The plot is simple: Wannabe lounge singer Deloris witnesses her gangster boyfriend capping a henchman in a back alleyway. As luck would have it, she has to enter an unconventional witness protection program in a convent. As you do. There, she runs smack into a by-the-book Mother Superior and a ragtag group of nuns who couldn’t sing “alleluia” if their lives depended on it. Using sass and brass, Delores transforms them into a choir with the heart, soul and chops to sing for the pope himself.
Yeah, it’s flimsy and silly. This is not a deeply cerebral musical. Embrace that. It is surprisingly clever. There were a few obscure religious jokes that had me rolling in the aisles. Come on, what other musical has a joke about Barabas? Not even Jesus Christ, Superstar. I can’t recall ever laughing quite so hard at a musical, from the silly seduction of a group of thugs to the antics of the nuns, it’s a good-hearted and thoroughly fluffy musical. I love it for that. Mother Superior (Hollis Resnik) displays perfect comedic timing and a whip-smart weariness that I adored.
As for the music, it truly shines during group numbers. Any time you have a big group of people on stage, the results will be stunning, and the nuns are no exception here. Their harmonies are tight, their habits are sparkly and their dance moves are pure ’70s cheese. “Take Me to Heaven,” the first rousing number the nuns sing together, really is stirring, as is the booming encore.
Sister Act also features what may be my favorite ever prop in a musical: a giant statue of the Virgin Mary. It starts off as a shrouded, almost forgotten thing, but eventually becomes a bedazzled extravaganza of wonderfulness.
Great music and laughter aren’t a cure for illness; my nose is starting to drip again and the clouds are creeping back into my head. But for a couple of hours, I was able to laugh away my illness and spend some time being transported away from my cares with a show that is far, far more fun than I ever expected. Go see Sister Act. Trust me on this one.
Sister Act is at the Old National Centre February 26-March 3. Tickets start at $39. My tickets were provided courtesy of Broadway Across America Indianapolis. I was asked to tweet my impressions of the show but was not obligated to write this blog post or endorse the show in any way. Opinions are my own.