Having just seen a beautiful production of THE SECRET GARDEN at Red Mountain Theatre Company two short weeks ago, I was surprised to turn my calendar and realize I was headed back there so soon for SISTER ACT.
As with THE SECRET GARDEN, RMTC manages to find some of the best talent in the Birmingham area. This time they also brought in talent from outside of the area, which I sometimes question, but with so many local people in key roles and everyone so perfectly cast, I won’t complain here. It is a good opportunity for everyone to work and learn together.
From the very beginning Caprenia Anthony as Deloris Van Cartier grabs your attention and never lets it go throughout the production. She is vivacious, beautiful and extremely talented. Her energy never falters, nor does that incredible voice. She manages to sound great in both the sweet songs and the flashier”disco” numbers.
Hiding in a convent from former boyfriend Curtis, played expertly by Rufus Bonds, Jr., Deloris is at first appalled and later befriended by the nuns who live there. The nuns are played by a group of actresses who span several generations, but share one thing in common- they all play their parts extremely well together as an ensemble. Amy Johnson as Sister Mary Patrick is a standout and Hannah Mansfield as Sister Mary Robert is a newcomer that I hope we see much more of in the future. Both have great vocal range and Ms. Johnson gets a chance to show a different side of herself in this production.
Ms. Mansfield gets her moment to shine when she sings “The Life I Never Led.” It showcases not only her beautiful voice, but her acting ability as well. It made me want to be more daring and adventurous. And isn’t that what theatre should be, a life affirming and thought provoking experience?
Sweaty Eddie Souther is a policeman who has had a crush on Deloris since high school. Played with precise comedic timing by Brandon A. McCall, Eddie is not only funny, but turns out to be heroic. During one number, “I Could Be That Guy” McCall makes 3 flawless costume changes on stage that will make you smile. McCall has one of my favorite male voices of the night.
Some of the most memorable numbers are by Curtis’s three henchmen, Joey played by Don Garrett, Pablo played by Michael Williams and TJ played by Sebastian V. Addy. Their antics and vocal ranges are delightful. When they dance with an old TV, all three shine.
I have to make mention of the beautiful, elaborate costumes. This show has policemen, nuns and priests, bar patrons, performers, gangsters and the Pope. Although rented for the show, it was still a lot of changing, organizing and work for the costume crew. Well done.
RMTC does a really good job with their sets, sound and lighting. Quick transitions between scenes is one of the many things I so appreciate about this company. On opening night there was a glitch that meant a light didn’t shine on the mirror ball, making a couple of lines possibly confusing. With a quick mention from Executive Director Keith Cromwell during the curtain speech asking our forgiveness and imagination, and the heartfelt delivery of the lines, we all “saw” the missing disco lights and moved on happily. Kudos to everyone for handling a small mishap so perfectly and professionally. (With me, it’s the little things!) Live theatre can be unpredictable, but that is what makes it so wonderful.
With expert musical direction by Brian Victor, I was thrilled to have live musicians again for this production. The whole experience was directed by Kent Zimmerman who put together a fun, fast paced, well-choreographed show that fills the stage and kept me smiling from start to finish.
With a full house including nuns from St. Rose and lots of local actors in attendance, the whole evening was one to be remembered. I strongly urge you to go see this noteworthy production full of talented local stars. It runs through May 22 at the Red Mountain Theatre Company Cabaret Theatre. Go to redmountaintheatre.org or call 205-324-2424 for more information.