Theatre by the Sea is ending their season this year with Sister Act. This was my first time visiting the venue this summer, and the first thing I have to say is, “Holy AC!” (Pun fully intended.) Those uncomfortable nights in the balcony are a thing of the past, thanks to the theater’s new air conditioning unit.
Walking into the theater, I felt like I was back at the church of my childhood, St. James, with the organ music greeting you and the stained glass windows on the stage. Of course that’s where the similarities with my good Catholic school girl upbringing end. This show, based on the movie from the ’90s starring Whoopi Goldberg, is the story of Deloris Ven Cartier, an aspiring singer who witnesses her lover murder a man. She is then on the run, and hides out in a convent. Total transparency here — this is not the type of musical I tend to enjoy; however, this production surpassed every one of my expectations.
Visually this show packs a punch. Lighting designer Jose Santiago is enjoying his first season at Theatre By The Sea, and I sincerely hope this won’t be his last. His design was flawless; there’s no other way to describe it — simply flawless. Combine that with Kyle Dixon’s fabulous set design and you have a complete feast for the eyes!
Now to some of the performances. Theatre by the Sea always attracts fabulous performers, but this show in particular has a top-notch talented cast from Rhode Island and beyond.
Let’s start with Deloris Van Cartier, played by Jeannette Bayardelle. Simply put, Bayardelle is a powerhouse. I couldn’t get enough of her voice! And not only is her voice amazing, she has the comedic timing to rival some of today’s top comedians.
Philip Michael Baskerville plays Curtis, the main villain. His performance was fantastic — his singing filled that room! His number “When I Find My Baby” was a definite favorite of the night. Another great moment is Eddie Souther’s (Jared Dixon) number “I Could Be That Guy.” His torch song is funnier than a traditional torch song, and Dixon plays the part perfectly. Dixon’s character finds himself mercilessly teased, which leads to some truly funny moments.
Make time to catch this show before it’s over — tickets have been flying out the box office window! Overall, this show is a fun romp of one liners and upbeat songs. What a way to end your summer!
Sister Act is playing at Theatre by the Sea until September 4. theatrebythesea.com