Sunday, August 14, 2011

Glitter Whores

I saw SISTER ACT on a hot muggy evening and it was just what the doctor ordered: a sprightly, breezy musical. And guess what? It has one of the most tuneful, melodic scores I have heard in a while. It's pastiche of the Motown era, and it has wit and punch. I really do think Alan Menken is a gifted composer, and even without Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater is a great collaborator. We all know and have seen the Sister Act movies, so there's no need to rehash the plot, but the musical stays faithful to the movie.  The book is quite hilarious, and I can sense the hand of Douglas Carter Beane in a lot of the punchlines. I know it's a little too sentimental for the highbrows, but it works just fine for me. Patina Miller was brought in from the West End production and she is a fine singer, with a voice that shouts to the rafters, and that is exactly the voice needed for the score. As an actress, though, she seems just  a little detached and cold for the role. I sense she may be better at a dramatic role. Maybe I was looking for a more "showy" interpretation, perhaps akin to Whoopi Goldberg's performance in the movie. For this reason, I liked Tony winner Victoria Clark better here, as the Mother Superior, as she brings more arc to an essentially one-note role. The supporting nuns are all quite good, and they mirror exactly the nuns in the movie. I could just see the Casting Director saying "Get me a singing Kathy Najimy type!" As the postulate nun, Sarah Bolt resonated with me the most, and she shines in her 10:45 number. But I was happiest when the nuns are all decked out in their Swaroski-encrusted costumes (real Swaroski, I read) and singing their gospel-disco numbers. That's a lot of glitter and is perfect for a glitter whore like myself .

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