Landmark Community Theatre, Thomaston: What you get: A spirited cast lifts the Landmark production of Sister Act to a high level of community theater. Under the direction of Marissa Follo Perry, who performed in the original Broadway production of Sister Act, the cast comes together to deliver a night of soulful music and devilish comedy. Based on the movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, the musical stage production is subtitled A Divine Musical Comedy.
Certainly there are some divine performances on the Thomaston stage including Sasha Brown as the naughty Deloris Van Cartier and Priscilla Squiers as a very righteous Mother Superior. These two multi-talented actors never fail to provide excellence in their performances. They are so convincing that you could easily wonder if Brown is a nightclub singer and Squiers lent to the Opera House from a nearby convent. Best of all, their voices are pitch perfect.
Also showing how divine they can be is the choir of nuns who sing heavenly, but know how to let loose. Whether singing or creating laughter, they consistently delight the audience. Just because the title focuses on Sisters, doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of men in this show. Moses Beckett plays Eddie, a police officer who has had a long time crush on Deloris Van Cartier. Beckett has a great voice and he definitely nailed some dance moves. Daniel Fedrick plays Curtis, Deloris’ former boyfriend who is out to kill her. He too is a triple threat with acting, voice, and dance skills. Curtis’ three accomplices played by Kyle Davis, Diwan Glass and Dan Beaudoin also win over the Thomaston audience.
This is a large cast. The nuns are performed by: Denise Howard, Stephanie Varanelli Miles, Patti Rice, Debbie Videtto, Patti Paganucci, Lynn D’Ambrosi, Bev Delventhal-Sali, Rhiannon Carta, Laureen Monge, Chelsea Pollard, Loretta Fedrick, and Cat Gomez. The Fantasy Dancers are: Rhiannon Carta, Stephanie Varanelli Miles, Lynn D’Ambrosi, Shelby Davis, and Jakob Buckley. Also in the production are: Becky Sawicki, Kathy Cook, and Susie Hackel who do a terrific job as nuns who befriend Deloris as well as Chrissy Flynn and Jane Coughlin. Steve Sorriero does a fine job as Monsignor O’Hara.
All theater productions like to think that they have the dream team when it comes to the creative crew. Director Marissa Follo Perry managed to get that with John Carter as the Choreographer and Dan Ringuette as Music Director. In addition to these top artists, she also had Keith Winager design the set, Carol Koumbaros design costumes, Alex Dunn as lighting designer and Jim Luurtsema and Gary Kingsbury provided the sound design.
What you don’t get: While the community theater production is terrific, the play itself lacks originality. It follows the same formula for many other musicals and offers nothing new. With so many creative and novel ways of performing a musical, this tried and true version is rather disappointing. It’s same ol’ same ol’. Alan Menken’s music with lyrics by Glenn Slater are not memorable and Cheri and Bill Steinkellner who wrote the book with materials by Douglas Carter Beane don’t seem to have their fingers on the pulse of modern musicals.
What we don’t get to see is the orchestra, which is really good and includes pit singers who also contribute to this fine production.
Overall: This is an excellent community theater production that showcases outstanding talent on stage as well as behind the scenes. It plays through May 1.
Box office: 860-283-6250
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]