Musical comedy ‘Sister Act’ opens tonight at Queen Creek Performing Arts Center

Ayanna Le Andre, center, plays the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier in this weekend’s musical production of “Sister Act” at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

 

Can the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center produce a full-blown musical comedy production with less than four weeks rehearsal?

The cast of 40 and crew of “Sister Act” say they can, noting that the whirlwind pace is bringing out the best in themselves and bonding them to their fellow Thespians.

Ayanna Le Andre, left, and Tyler Morgan rehearse a number for the musical comedy “Sister Act,” being performed Jan. 26, 27 and 29 at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. Visit qcpac.com to purchase tickets. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

“It’s a great learning experience for me,” said Ayanna Le Andre, who is cast in the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier, a role made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie version by the same name.

“When you’re a professional taking on a contract, you’re given maybe two or three weeks at the most,” said Ms. Le Andre, who local audiences may recognize from her role of Mother Maybelle in the QCPAC production of “Hairspray” and in “Aida” at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert. “It’s brought the cast together faster. We’re all working hard toward the same goal.”

“Sister Act” opens at 7 p.m. tonight, Jan. 26, at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center, 22149 E. Ocotillo Road. Additional shows are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 27, and 7 p.m. Jan. 29.

(Read related story)

Tickets can be purchased at www.qcpac.com or by calling the box office at 480-987-7469.

The show

The stage production of “Sister Act” features original music by Tony- and eight-time Oscar winner, Alan Menken. It was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It is filled with powerful gospel music, outrageous dancing and a truly moving story, according to press information.

The story follows disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier, who after witnessing a murder, is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be a found: a convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior.

Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community but, in doing so, blows her cover.

Soon, the gang is giving chase, only to find them up against Deloris and the power of her newly found sisterhood.

Girl power

The nuns “get down” in a musical number during a rehearsal for “Sister Act,” Jan. 26, 27 and 29 at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

The story is timely for this era of female empowerment in today’s society.

“It’s a super fun show about the camaraderie of women,” QCPAC Director Molly Jacobs said during a phone interview. “And we had an outstanding group of women actors who came forward to audition and play the roles. The majority of them are moms. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they can’t shine on stage.”

The women learned four major dance numbers in four weeks.

“The actors — like the nuns they play — helped each other for the pure joy of it,” Ms. Jacobs said.

Still, the theater director called the nonstop production schedule a “freight train.”

Cramming the musical comedy into an already tight schedule was necessary to help the local theater community continue to expand its horizons.

“The good news is we’re really, really busy. The bad news is we’re really, really busy,” Ms. Jacobs said during a phone interview.

In June, Ms. Jacobs led a cast of more than 70 local actors in performances of “Shrek, the Musical.” Based on the mega-hit film “Shrek,” the performing arts center’s version was recognized by the 2017 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence — the Arizona theater community’s version of an Oscar — for Best Musical Production.

From left, Ben McClellan, Tucker Abney, Steve Morgan and Deddrick Harris utilize the lobby at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center to rehearse a musical number. (Wendy Miller/Independent Newsmedia)

Ms. Jacobs also won a Zoni for choreography.

Next came “Singin’ in the Rain Jr.,” a stage version of what many considered by many to be the “greatest movie musical of all time.” It took place Nov. 3-6 at QCPAC.

It was immediately followed Nov. 16-21 by the monumental musical production of “Disney’s The Lion King Jr.” It featured two rotating casts of adults and children in full Broadway-worthy costumes. Many of the costumes were created and donated by area residents as part of a special program that allowed the public to participate in the production while defraying its costs.

With so many back-to-back productions at the performing arts center, the cast of “Sister Act” received their scripts in late December and held their first rehearsal on-stage Jan. 2.

“It’s the only time we had,” Ms. Jacobs said.

She knew she wanted to bring the show to Queen Creek after viewing it in New York City, she said.

The show’s message

Brittany Thomas belts out a number during a rehearsal of “Sister Act,” being performed Jan. 26, 27 and 29 at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. Visit qcpac.com to purchase tickets. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

She liked its message about transformation — about how much better the show’s characters feel to be part of something special, she said.

“I find it uplifting. It helps bring out the best in what we have to offer,” Ms. Jacobs said.

And the best in what they have to offer is no doubt what the “Sister Act” cast and crew will deliver for this weekend’s productions.

For tickets, visit qcpac.com or call the box office at 480-987-7469.

For more information about “Sister Act” as well as other upcoming shows, visit the QCPAC website.

 

David Love is Monsignor O’Hara in the musical production of “Sister Act” at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

 

Ben McClellan, left, plays Curtis, a thug who is desperate to find his ex-girlfriend Deloris before she can squeal on him in the musical comedy “Sister Act” at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. During this rehearsal for the show, Mr. McClellan is joined by Tucker Abney, center, and Steve Morgan, who play two of Curtis’ associates. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newsmedia)

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.