A Feel-Good And Fabulous “Sister Act”

MNM Theater Company is continuing its musical comedy reign at its new home at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center with a production of the show Sister Act. Based on a popular movie, which I have still never seen despite having seen a different production of this 2006 musical adaptation. 

The show’s relatively simple fish out of water story commences when down and out Deloris Cartier’s lowlife boyfriend kills one of his cronies in front of her, kicking off a fish out of water journey that lands her in the witness protection program and hence hiding out at a nearby convent.

Vallery Valentine as Deloris Cartier.

Vallery Valentine offers a strong lead performance as Cartier, a diamond inspired name that the likable protagonist punched up from “Doris Carter” as she pursued her dreams of singing stardom. And her musical expertise unexpectedly comes in handy as Cartier eventually channels her talent into coaching the church choir, kicking off the surprisingly successful “sister act” that gives the play its title and saving the struggling nunnery from financial ruin. 

It isn’t much of a spoiler to suggest that these capers will turn out for the best in this relatively simple and relatively entertaining comedy tale. The plot may lean towards the predictable and suffer from some uneven set-up, yet MNM’s consistently high production values and a mostly-strong cast elevate the show into one that’s still worth seeing. 

James White III makes for a charming love interest in Eddie, Don Jose for a menacing lowlife Curtis Jackson, and Bill Brewer for an amusing Monsignor O Hara. Despite the fact that some of the less prominent members of the male ensemble struck me as a little lackluster, it’s the singing sisters of this Act that really give it its star power. 

Dalia Aleman offers angelic vocals and a divine aura as the saintly Mother Superior. Then, though all but a few other key players in the ensemble remain mostly indistinguishable under their habits, all seemed to be giving it their all in showy group numbers like “Take Me To Heaven,” “Raise Your Voice,” and “Sunday Morning Fever,” that were probably the play’s highlight. 

Sparkling choreography by Alex Jorth and, eventually, shimmering purple habits that are part of Penny Koleos Williams’ costume design add to the entertainment value of these all-out sister shindigs, all bolstered by gorgeous scenic design by Cindi Blank Taylor. 

And though some other less interesting solo numbers were plagued by sound issues that served to overpower vocals or that revealed the show’s noticeable periods of narrative stagnancy, the journey of Deloris and her convent companions is one that eventually develops real emotional stakes. 

Though none of it is at all groundbreaking, Sister Act’s inspirational message of learning to care about, collaborate with, and appreciate the unique gifts of people who you may on the surface have little in common with is at least a more uplifting one than that of MNM’s last production Grease, which was more along the lines of “go ahead and change yourself for a man.” 

So, if you ignore the dystopian capitalist implications of innocent aging nuns only being saved from old folks homes by the miraculous intervention of an unexpected soul sister, there’s probably no reason you won’t have a good time at this feel-good and fabulous romp. 

Thus, if you’re in the “habit” of enjoying high quality Florida theatre, you may want to take advantage of your last weekend to see what’s been hiding under the habits of these no-nonsense nuns and get thee to a performance of Sister Act before it must close this March 6th!

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