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'Sister Act' astounds KC audiences with humor, songs, sparkle and pizzazz

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Sister Act

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Broadway Across America sparkled and shined when they opened the Kansas City debut of Sister Act on Tues., Jan 21, at the Music Hall in downtown’s Municipal Auditorium to the delight of an enthusiastic standing ovation.

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Sparkle, it did. Nowhere other than a Las Vegas show will patrons see so many sequins and sparkles. But, the shine did not stop there. Mother Superior, played by Lynne Wintersteller gave a dynamic performance, coupling her stage presence with outstanding vocal performance. But not to be outdone, understudy, Mary Searcy commanded the stage and proved beyond any doubt that she’s ready to consistently headline Sister Act.

Absolutely, a star was born with Searcy’s portrayal of Deloris Van Cartier, a.k.a. Doris Carter and Sister Mary Clarence. Searcy looked like she owned the part from curtain up to final bow and exit. No one would know an understudy was performing unless he or she saw the sign discretely placed outside of the viewing of most patrons.

Sister Act explodes with family-friendly story, characters, dialogue, and razzle-dazzle to the delight of everyone. All the music is upbeat. The lyrics are humorous when needed, uplifting when needed, toe-tapping–throughout, and thoroughly entertaining.

Unlike so many current Broadway shows, no one will find a swear word in the script or a sexual scene, or something other than total family-oriented fun. Sister Act shines–and it really does shine in all aspects. Have no doubts and take the family to enjoy an evening of fun theater.

Sister Act comes to the stage based on the movie of the same name that starred Whoopi Goldberg. The stage version, written by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner, contains music and lyrics by Allen Menchen and Glenn Slater.

Sister Mary Clarence’s adversary, the Mother Superior, Lynne Wintersteller, made for a strong villain, if one can consider a nun to be a villain. She used comedic timing, some humorous songs, and demonstrated that she could make a believable change, as necessary, for the happy ending of the show. Wintersteller’s voice is strong, clear, and pitch perfect. She could carry any show.

One of the charming and engaging parts of Sister Act is the use of so many characters with singing and dancing parts. Sister Act has five male featured singing actors. Along with that, about five featured female singing parts of note.

Deloris’ boyfriend the major thug in the show (Melvin Abston) breaks into a song and dance in Act I that displays his great vocal talent and musical delivery. While his dancing was not important to the show, it’s obviously he does dance.

Three thugs provide comic relief (Tad Wilson, Ernie Pruneda, and Charles Barksdale). Of the trio, Pruneda stood out for his movement and delivery. The song “Lady in the Long Black Dress” was humorous.

Chester Gregory tore up the show with his character of Sweaty Eddie and really stood out in his signature solo, “I Could Be That Guy.” He combined singing skill, smooth dancing, and strong performance delivery to bring loud applause from the audience. Watch for him to do bigger and better parts.

As for the nuns, Sisters Mary Lazarus, Mary Patrick, and Mary Robert all had featured singing parts in several numbers. Of particular note, Mary Robert, (Ashley Moniz) performed a spectacular version of “The Life I Never Led.”

Give a round of applause to the orchestra that kept the show moving and energized, the costumes that dazzled, and the directing that kept the show tight and well-paced. For opening night of a road show, no mistakes stood out. The show is polished, bold, brassy, charming, funny, entertaining, and engaging.

Sister Act runs through Sunday with tickets available through: theaterleague.com/kansascity.

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