"Different World" Star Dawnn Lewis to Get Into the Habit for Sister Act The Musical

News   "Different World" Star Dawnn Lewis to Get Into the Habit for Sister Act The Musical "A Different World" star Dawnn Lewis will headline as the nun/singer-in-hiding in the upcoming world premiere musical Sister Act based on the 1992 film.

Dawnn Lewis
Dawnn Lewis Photo by Ryan Miller

Peter Schneider will direct the movie-turned-musical which debuts at Pasadena Playhouse (Oct. 24-Nov. 26) then plays Atlanta's Alliance Theatre (Jan. 17-Feb. 25, 2007).

Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast) pens original music for the work with lyrics by Glenn Slater (newyorkers, That's Life). Cheri and Bill Steinkellner provide the book based on the screenplay by Joseph Howard.

Joining Lewis in the cast will be Elizabeth Ward Land as Mother Superior, Harrison White (The Lion King, Purlie) as mobman Shank, David Jennings as cop Eddie, Amy K. Murray as Sister Mary Patrick, Beth Malone as Sister Mary Robert, Audrie Neenan as Sister Mary Lazarus and Henry Polic II as Monsignor Howard.

"When disco club singer Deloris Van Cartier is placed in protective custody in a dying convent, her unique brand of funk comes face-to-face with the traditions of the church and the strict order is in for a change," reads a release for the new work. "Masquerading as a nun named Mary Clarence, this Sister's act will have you laughing and singing in the aisles."

Lewis, perhaps best known to television audiences for her turn as Jaleesa Vinson Taylor on TV's "A Different World," appears in the upcoming film version of "Dreamgirls" as Melba Early. The actress, who has been seen on TV in "NYPD Blue," "Girlfriends" and "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper," has trod the boards before in the national tour of The Tap Dance Kid, in Street of the Sun (Mark Taper Forum) and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Other credits include "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" and voiceover work on "Futurama," "King of the Hill," "Spider-Man" and "The Boondocks." Sister Act will feature choreography by Marguerite Derricks. Tim Weske is fight coordinator. The design team includes David Potts (set), Donald Holder (lighting), Garry Lennon (costumes), Carl Casella and Domonic Sack (sound) and Carol F. Doran (wig and hair).

Brent-Alan Huffman is music director and conductor. Michael Kosarin handles music supervision. Doug Besterman provides orchestrations and dance music arrangements are by Mark Hummel. Michelle Elkin serves as associate choreographer. Eileen F. Haggerty is production stage manager.

Menken and Slater recently collaborated on the animated "Home on the Range" and were also developing the musical version of "Leap of Faith." The composer has previously teamed with Disney on "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast," "Pocahantas" "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Hercules."

The 1992 movie starred Whoopi Goldberg in the role of the singer-turned-sister opposite Maggie Smith and Kathy Najimy as her habit brethren. Harvey Keitel also appeared in the film directed by Emile Ardolino.

Tickets to Sister Act at Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena, CA, or Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff, 1280 Peachtree Street in Atlanta, GA, are available at www.sisteractthemusical.com. For more information, visit pasadenaplayhouse.org or alliancetheatre.org.