The '70s...Survive Onstage In Elm Grove
The stage adaptation of Sister Act makes it to Elm Grove this month in a production that closes at the beginning of November. It's a soulful show that mixes a church-based Catholic milieu with a '70s disco style. Is precisely the kind of distinctive mix of different moods that makes for good theater. There is a very distinctive a world being presented on stage that my not actually a late 1970s that actually happened but feels like it should be anyway. Everything seems so clean. Even sleazy bar feels quaint and cozy and a charming. One of the characters is taken into custody by the police and even apparent prostitutes seem stylishly classy.
More Local Roles For African-American Actors, Please
Ashley Levells does an amazing job as aspiring '70s pop diva Deloris Van Cartier. In places it feels like she's carrying the entire show, but this is me being disingenuous. In reality the script gives her more central stage time than any other actor on the ensemble, so naturally she's going to dominate the stage. A powerful voice and somewhat blindingly dazzling charisma are only as good as the stage allows them to be. A good portion of what Levells is doing here is living up to kind of a dream role in musical theatre. One of the reasons it feels like such a novelty is the fact that she's an African-American talent. It's not often that there are roles this prominent for black actors. So...more roles for African-Americans. (please?)
The Casually Deft Grace of Greg Malcolm
He plays the tiniest member of the criminal entourage that is pursuing the shows heroine. The man has moves. His bio says that he recently had a ten year hiatus from the stage. I don't recall ever seeing him on stage. There's a slickly soulful precision about his movements and motions on stage. The damn thing is one thing. The physical comedy is another. But to build on each other really well and his performance. What's really cool about this is that he seem to know exactly how much he can get away with on stage without upstaging all the rest of the action. It's almost as fun to watch what he's not doing as it is to watch what he's actually doing.
Oh So Many, Many Habits
Costume designer Joanne Cunningham didn’t have much to work with for some of the costuming here. There are habits onstage. Lots of them. I mean...wow...I don’t recall ever seeing this many habits on one stage at one time. Its...weird...but at least the play allows for a little bit of flash with glitzy accents for the big musical numbers. But still..wow...that’s a whole lot of habit onstage. You kinda know you’re going into that if you’re seeing a staging of Sister Act, but you’re not really ready for the full effect until you’re actually there seeing them all onstage.
The Sunset Playhouse's production of Sister Act runs through Nov. 5 at the Furlan Auditorium on 800 Elm Grove Road. For more information, call 262-782-4430 or visit the Sunset Playhouse online. A complete review of the show runs in the next print edition of The Shepherd-Express.