Sister Act Musical Opens Run at Atlanta's Alliance Jan. 24

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24 Jan 2007

Harrison White and Dawnn Lewis in <i>Sister Act: The Musical</i>.
Harrison White and Dawnn Lewis in Sister Act: The Musical.
Greg Mooney
"A Different World" actress Dawnn Lewis stars in the new musical Sister Act, which officially opens at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre Jan. 24.

Following its extended, record-breaking run at the Pasadena Playhouse, the new musical landed in the Georgia stage Jan. 17 for a run slated through Feb. 25. Peter Schneider directs the musical based on the 1992 motion picture.

Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast) wrote 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.

"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 Sister Act press release. "Masquerading as a nun named Mary Clarence, this Sister's act will have you laughing and singing in the aisles."

Joining Lewis in the cast are 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.



Also appearing in the ensemble are Melvin Abston, Dan Domenech, Badia Farha, Andi Gibson, Wendy James, Wendy Melkonian, Claci Miller, Pátina Renea, Lisa Robinson, Danny Stiles and Roberta B. Wall.

Speaking to changes made between the two runs, composer Menken told Playbill.com, "We made little cuts all over the place in lots of songs and in the book, and we're still making changes. We attempted to deal with some thematic issues having to do with the nuns in the convent. Revisions are complicated on any project, but on a project like Sister Act, where so many people feel an investment in the film, you're dealing with people's impressions of what it was. You have to balance between doing what you think is right for the basic thread of the storyline—for what is good for the musical—and, at the same time, somewhat serve the expectations of those who saw the original film." (For more from Menken, visit Playbill.com's BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Alan Menken.)

Sister Act features 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.

Lewis, perhaps best known to television audiences for her turn as Jaleesa Vinson Taylor on TV's "A Different World," appears in the 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."

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, which was directed by Emile Ardolino.

Tickets to Sister Act the Musical at The Alliance Theatre in the Woodruff Arts Center (corner of Peachtree and 15th Street) in midtown Atlanta, GA, are available by calling (404) 733-5000 or online at alliancetheatre.org.