Monday, November 09, 2015

North Shore Music Theatre Presents "Sister Act" - Jeannette Bayardelle as Sister Mary Clarence Took Me To Heaven!

North Shore Music Theatre is ending its 2015 season with a bang in the sizzling production of "Sister Act."  In the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence is the fabulous Jeanette Bayardelle, star of Broadway productions of "Hair" and "The Color Purple."  Ms. Bayardelle was born to play this role.  She conveys both the gritty and saucy determination of entertainer Deloris Van Cartier, as well as the pulsating spark plug energy of Sister Mary Clarence who resurrects a moribund choir of nuns and brings back to life a perishing parish.  She also demonstrates a dramatic arc that moves in counterpoint with that of Mother Superior (Ellen Harvey).  At the outset of the relationship, they view one another with hostility, each representing an obstacle and impediment to the other's dreams and prayers.  By the end, they have come to meet in the middle, and the irresistible force that is Deloris and the immovable object that is Mother Superior each has learned to give a little, and a special sisterhood bond is forged.

The Sisters in Song
"Sister Act"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through November 15th
It is always a challenge to block a show in the round, but Director and Choreographer Kevin P. Hill has this vibrant cast constantly in motion, allowing full access for every section of the audience to observe action taking place on the stage and in the aisles. Scenic design by Nate Bertone is clever, with a center stage elevator allowing for some scene changes with other changes taking place as scenic elements move up and down ramps.  Lighting by Richard Latta is "spot on"!  The impressive costumes by Jeff Hendry allow for several stark changes in tone and atmosphere as we move from cabaret to convent.  Sound design by Leon Rothenberg combines with the lush underscoring of the orchestra led by Andrew Bryan to provide a soundscape that enhances the audience experience of this rollicking show.

In addition to the star power and artistry of Ms. Bayardelle, several members of this fine ensemble stand out.  Ellen Harvey as Mother Superior is perfect, blustering in her complaints to God about the sacrilegious goings on in her parish, and softening as she senses that perhaps Deloris is beginning to see the light.  Her rendition of "I Haven't Got A Prayer" is a highlight.

Ellen Harvey as Mother Superior
Jeannette Bayardelle as Sister Mary Clarence 
"Sister Act"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through November 15th

Richard Pruitt is wonderful as Monsignor O'Hara.  He will do whatever it takes to save this sinking parish, and he really gets into the spirit of Sister Mary Clarence's more upbeat approach to worship.

Kyle Robert Carter makes a perfect foil as "Sweaty Eddie," the cop who has always had a crush on Deloris.  He shines in the number "I Could Be That Guy."

We see real growth and development of the once shy Sister Mary Robert, played winsomely by Lael Van Keuren.  Her "The Life I Never Led" holds our attention and grabs our hearts.

Tina Johnson is a delight as Sister Mary Lazarus.  She rises from the tomb of her self-pity over losing leadership of the choir, and offers a rap litany that had everyone laughing and clapping with joy.

Jonathan Kirkland as Curtis Jackson brings a silky smoothy Motown sound, and raises the bar on the level of danger in the air when he croons "When I Find My Baby."

The trio of thugs, Joey, Pablo and TJ are played with verve and panache by Brent Bateman, Nikko Kimzin and Avionce Hoyles.  They brought down the house and invaded the front row of the audience with their audacious "Lady In The Long Black Dress."

Jeannette Bayardelle as Deloris Van Cartier
"Sister Act"
North Shore Music Theatre
Through November 15th

In addition to being musically enchanting and dramatically engaging, this show is also set on solid theological ground.  There is a wonderful scene near the climax in which Deloris and Mother Superior are reaching a rapprochement and detente in their long cold war.  As they opine about why things are finally working out, Mother Superior gives credit to God, and Deloris credits basic humanity.  "Maybe it's a little bit of both."  Christian theology says that this is the nature of Jesus - both God and human together."  Amen!

The show must close this Sunday, so pray that you get there in time.  This is a show you will not want to miss.  It is a blessing.  Hallelujah!

And stay tuned for the 25th year of NSMT's spectacular "Christmas Carol."  God bless us, every one!



North Shore Music Theater Website

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