Courtesy of Madeline Moye
Based on the 1992 comedy, Midtown’s rendition of “Sister Act” will mark the first live musical since the production of “Legally Blonde” in January of 2020.
The original film features a nightclub singer who is forced to seek shelter in a convent, where she turns nuns into an impassioned chorus. However, after her identity is discovered, main singer Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is forced to reassess her decisions.
“It’s a very fish out of water situation,” Director of Theatre and Film Jake Dreiling said. “She’s the last person to be a nun. She’s very much not saintly in any way, shape or form. She asks for things like, ‘Where’s the cigarette machine?’ and they’re all like, ‘What is she talking about?’”
“Sister Act” will be produced entirely by Midtown’s Musical Theater Production class, allowing for productions from Midtown’s Drama Department, such as “California Suite,” to be produced simultaneously. It will be the first and only full production done by the class for the school year.
“We’re working on this alongside other productions that have been going on,” Dreiling said. “This is strictly out of the Musical Theatre Production class, so basically all they do in this class is rehearse for this one show for a semester. We only have rehearsals in class, so that means other shows can happen after school.”
The show was meant to be produced in 2020, but was unable to start rehearsals due to a series of copyright issues.
“We were going to do this [musical] 2 years ago and then we couldn’t get the rights, so this is actually one that we’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Dreiling said. “You have to ask for the rights and they send you a contract and basically that’s all there is to it. Sometimes, other professional productions or schools are doing it and they don’t want you to steal business from their production so they sometimes limit the rights to people so that’s why we didn’t get them the first time.”
For seniors like Madeline Moye, this meant finding alternatives to the show.
“We went through with the entire audition process and even got the cast list, but right when school started, we found out we couldn’t do it because of an issue with the rights,” Moye said. “I felt really bad for the seniors with big parts that got taken away from them. After that, Dreiling asked for possible show recommendations from students, so I and a few others suggested Legally Blonde and Mamma Mia.”
Moye has been in eight Midtown productions, and will play the part of “Mother Superior” in “Sister Act.” She believes her and her character share many commonalities, allowing Moye to better portray her role.
“While Mother Superior’s personality is very different from mine, I most relate to her in her struggles with being a leader,” Moye said. “Entering this year as both President of the Thespian Board and Co-president of Chorus has proved much more difficult than I ever could have imagined. I had a bumpy start to the year as I tried to adjust to managing everything after a year of virtual school. Like me, Mother Superior’s entire character is built off of trying to be a good leader for the people she cares about.”
Now with the capability of producing the musical, Dreiling believes the show is perfect for the resources available to the class.
“One of the reasons this musical is good for us is because it has a large ensemble of females, which is who we have in the class,” Dreiling said. “This year, since we had an abundance of females, we went with something female driven.”
However, the Covid-19 pandemic presented yet another challenge when students participated in a week of virtual school following Winter break. This meant pushing back opening night by a week. Furthermore, masks are required throughout rehearsals.
“One of the biggest challenges is that masks just suck to sing and act in,” junior Ike Edlein said. “It’s hard to convey emotion and sing at the best of your ability when you’re wearing a mask. Also, the virtual week messed up our schedule a lot.”
Additionally, one of the leads tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the cast to adapt. Senior Owen McCoy is set to step in for the role.
Despite difficulties, the musical will take place in person Jan. 20-22 at 7 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. on the 22nd. Tickets are required upon entry.
“Covid really hit the arts hard, and like many, I desperately missed live theater,” Moye said. “‘Sister Act’ has been my favorite Midtown show because it’s reminded me of why I love performing. I’m really excited to share that with everyone else.”