Sister Act — Musical Based on Film — Opens World-Premiere Run Nov. 3 | Playbill

News Sister Act — Musical Based on Film — Opens World-Premiere Run Nov. 3
Sister Act, the musical version of the nun-on-a-run story, makes its official world premiere Nov. 3 at the Pasadena Playhouse starring "A Different World" actress Dawnn Lewis in the lead role.

Dawnn Lewis and Mary Ward Land in Sister Act: The Musical.
Dawnn Lewis and Mary Ward Land in Sister Act: The Musical. Photo by Ed Krieger

Peter Schneider directs the musical — based on the 1992 motion picture — which began previews at the California stage Oct. 24 for a run through Nov. 26. The show then heads to Atlanta's Alliance Theatre (Jan. 17-Feb. 25, 2007).

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.

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.

"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."

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 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.

The songlist includes "Light My Way (Prologue)," "Take Me to Heaven," "Fabulous, Baby!," "A Simple Life," "How I Got the Calling," "Dress to Kill," "How I Got the Calling (Reprise)," "Goin' to Hell," "I Could Be That Guy," "Raise Your Voice," "Take Me to Heaven (Reprise)," "Sunday Morning Fever," "Lady in the Long Black Dress," "A Simple Life (Reprise)," "Sister Act," "The Life I Never Led," "Would It Kill Me?," "Dress to Kill (Reprise)," "I Haven’t Got a Prayer," "Light My Way" and "Mirror Ball."

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, which was 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 For more information, visit or

Dawnn Lewis (center) and the company of <i>Sister Act</i> at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Dawnn Lewis (center) and the company of Sister Act at the Pasadena Playhouse. Photo by Craig Schwartz

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