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Director comments on 'Sister Act' at The Phipps

Eddie (Matthew Hall, Woodbury) has his doubts about the ability of disco diva Deloris (Kayla Kauffman, Inver Grove Heights) to pull off her identity as Sister Mary Clarence in the witness protection program in The Phipps' production of "Sister Act." The production runs Nov. 2-25. Submitted photo

The upbeat musical comedy "Sister Act," with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner, and additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, is based on the popular Touchstone Pictures motion picture by the same name, written by Joseph Howard and starring Whoopi Goldberg. Performances will be given Nov. 2-25 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. as well as Sundays at 2 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts.

Aspiring diva Deloris Van Cartier is trying to work her way to the top of the 1970s Philadelphia disco scene. When Deloris witnesses a mob hit, she flees into the witness protection program, hiding in a most unlikely place: a cloistered convent. Deloris, disguised as Sister Mary Clarence, takes over as director of the nun's choir and brings it to a whole new, funky level. She also finds a sisterhood there that she never expected.

Veteran director Beth Reidenbach ably helms this divine musical comedy. She is aided by a talented creative team: music director Ruth Ashwood, assistant music director Ann Marie McIntire, and choreographer Mackenzie Lewis. Stage manager Cheryl Solberg keeps it all running smoothly.

Reidenbach is often asked if the stage version of "Sister Act" is the same as the motion picture, and she responds, "The answer is both yes and no. The story line is true to the movie, but the script offers more dimensions to many of the characters. The major difference is the music. The audience will not be disappointed with the disco-inspired score, created by the successful composer-lyricist team of Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, who also collaborated on 'Little Mermaid' for the stage and 'Tangled,' the animated Disney film. The songs perfectly fit the style and mood of the '70s, while adding character insights that further enhance the story. The music is uplifting and filled with energy.

"I was overwhelmed with the talent of the actors that showed up for auditions. This cast of 24 continues to impress me. 'Sister Act' is a very challenging production, with numerous scenes, songs and dancing. This cast is clearly up to the challenge. The actors are creating strong characters and we have amazing vocalists who are nailing the musical numbers. The dancing amazes me. With the guidance of our talented production staff, this cast is creating a completely entertaining production. And this show has it all, including comedy, touching scenes, and fun and interesting characters.

"Perhaps what has touched me most about this script is the message of growth and friendship. With all the laughter, song, and dance that the script provides, it's the heartwarming theme of love that will touch our audience. 'Sister Act' is the perfect feel-good musical for the holiday season."

Tickets are $27 for adults and $20 for students of any age, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715-386-8409 or online at ThePhipps.org.

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