With previous plans to debut in March 2020, ABC Players will finally present its performance of Sister Act.
The play tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a singer who’s trying to make it big, but witnesses a horrific event involving her boyfriend. The result is that Deloris becomes an informant and goes into hiding at a convent.
“She really gets involved with the sisters and the nuns, specifically in the music portion,” Samantha Pelham, who plays Tina and is part of the nun ensemble, said. “So she really takes these nuns under her wing musically, and transforms them into this really fun nun choir that is not just singing nuns singing the gospel, but it's dancing, disco and singing these church praises that are very disco-esque music.”
Pelham and Jodi MacNeal, president of ABC Players and a member of the ensemble, emphasized this relationship between Deloris and the nuns both within the musical and the cast outside.
“It's very cool to have a group of women that are mothers, that are close to my same age,” MacNeal said. “Then there's younger ladies that we can mentor, as well as the guys too, but I just think that's really neat and the bond that this cast has is amazing.”
The musical will be performed the weekend of March 18 and March 25 at Stuart’s Opera House, 52 Public Square in Nelsonville. Tickets are on sale, priced at $9 for students and $13 for adults. As of March 14, Stuart’s Opera House will not require proof of vaccinations, a negative COVID test or masks for all patrons, staff and volunteers.
“Stuart's, right now, no longer demands proof of vaccination, which I think is great,” Esteban Vazquez, who plays Officer Eddie Souther or “Sweaty Eddie,” said. “So, more people can have the opportunity.”
Vazquez said that this show has become infused in his DNA, especially after having it on the back burner for the past two years.
“I remember sitting there in the theater being told by our director Devin Sudman that we don't know when we're going to be able to perform this show because of what was happening at the time, but that we definitely knew we wanted to and we would find a way back to it at some point,” Pelham said. “So before we left the theater that day and packed up all of our costumes and all of our things, he said, ‘Let's run through the closing number,’ which is just a really fun and exciting number called “Spread the Love Around.” It was just filled with people crying because we've grown so close, and we have worked so hard on this and we weren't sure the next time we’d get this opportunity.”
As time has passed and the state of the world has changed, some of the cast and crew of the musical have changed. MacNeal said coming back to the show has been kind of like riding a bike.
“We have some of the same crew, but then we have some new additions which have been awesome,” MacNeal said. “It's changed a little, but it's amazing how close the cast has remained and come back, and how much we've remembered.”
With about 600 pre-sold tickets, the cast and crew are gearing up for two weeks of performances featuring late ‘70s music and many hip-hop dance numbers.
“If people are struggling, it is a show of hope and a show of belonging, and a show of acceptance,” Vazquez said. “If people are tired, it's a show to just come and be rejuvenated and entertained. And if people are in good spots, it's a show, again, to just come enjoy and feel that energy. It's a show that no matter where you are, people will be impacted in a positive manner by this musical, by this production.”
For this group, the long-awaited debut of this show will be here Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. with lots of choreography and a compelling story of a performer disguised as a nun.
“I do really encourage audiences to come out and support people who have been without this outlet or their job for the last two years, because it's both helping serve the community and the arts scene in the community, but it's also serving themselves,” Pelham said. “Theater and the arts can be a healing process in a way of taking you outside of what's currently happening in the world and kind of showing you a new perspective. And I think that's something that is extremely needed right now, amid everything happening.”
Correction: A previous version of thie article stated the wrong spelling of Devin Sudman’s name. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.