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Theatre Review: Disco-Dancing Nuns Sing “The World’s Your Oyster When You’re Locked in the Cloister”

Charr Crail

Zonya Love as Deloris Van Cartier and the company of Sister Act produced by Music Circus.

Charr Crail

Sacramento’s Music Circus is getting nostalgic for the 1970s this week with its season finale, “Sister Act.” The show serves up an abundance of toe-tapping dance numbers and powerful singing, despite its less than compelling storyline.
 
If you don’t know the story of “Sister Act” and haven’t seen the movie version starring Whoopee Goldberg, picture this  a chorus line of dancing nuns in glittering sequins, kicking up their heels to a disco beat.
 
Sister Act 24 Cc P
Photo by Charr Crail

It’s silly very silly  but that’s exactly what the eager audience on Tuesday was after. Again and again, this show genuflects – with a wink to the disco era. And the score by Alan Menken runs the gamut. You’ll hear wah-wah guitar, like the theme from “Shaft.”

Another song plays around with the title of a movie featuring John Travolta and music by the BeeGees.

Other numbers emulate the silky-smooth Philadelphia Soul sound, recalling the production team of Gamble and Huff.

This show also chugs along on shopworn Catholic humor:

Praise the Lord, it’s good to be a nun. It’s trim and unrelenting, but for those who love repenting, Praise the Lord, it’s good to be a nun.
 

A little bit of this goes a long, long way, and in “Sister Act,” it’s like someone poured a whole bottle of ketchup onto one burger.

“Sister Act” is also burdened with a singularly formula-driven plotline involving a homicidal, pistol-packing crime lord. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, the dancing nuns outfox the thugs with guns.

But while the story is stale, the singing is solid, and the dancing is delightful. If you’re hearing me suggest that this Music Circus effort is a bang-up production of a largely forgettable show… you’re right. Energetic stagecraft ultimately overcomes most of the predictable clichés.
 
The Music Circus production of the musical “Sister Act” continues through Sunday at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in Sacramento. 
 
You can listen to the stars of this production talking on Insight with Beth Ruyak here.

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Jeff Hudson

Contributing Arts Reporter and Theatre Critic

Jeff Hudson has been contributing arts-related stories to Capital Public Radio since 1995, with an emphasis on theater and classical music. He attends over 100 performances annually, ranging from modern musicals to medieval masses.   Read Full Bio 

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