"Sister Act” has many similarities to the 1992 film that starred Whoopi Goldberg, but there are some twists.
The Tony nominated show, which stops this week at Arizona State University Gammage Auditorium, moves the action to the 1970s and doesn’t feature music from the original film. But according to the national tour’s stars, that’s the appeal of the musical.
“Even though the story is the same, these new elements make it feel fresh, but the message is still loud and clear,” said Ta’Rea Campbell, who portrays the lead, Deloris Van Cartier. “It’s about sisterhood and not judging a book by its cover and that there’s love everywhere.”
Just like the film, “Sister Act” follows lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier, who must go into hiding after she witnesses the murder of a man by her mobster boyfriend, Curtis. She then moves into a convent and becomes a nun, where she helps out the choir.
“I think Deloris is a very relatable character because she’s a person with a good heart, but she made some mistakes,” said Campbell from a tour stop in Cincinnati. “But she’s trying to do better and really follow her heart.”
The musical first debuted in London on the West End before it ran for more than a year on Broadway, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards.
Alan Menken, the composer for “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” also wrote the music for “Sister Act.” The score features a disco-era feel.
Songs include “Take Me to Heaven,” “Fabulous, Baby,” “Raise Your Voice,” “Bless Our Show” and “I Could Be That Guy.”
E. Clayton Cornelious, who portrays a police officer and Deloris’ love interest, Eddie, said he’s enjoyed the tour and the audiences’ responses.
“I feel so many people react to this show because of the great message about coming into yourself and finding love in strange places,” Cornelious said.
Cornelious first became acquainted with the role when he watched a friend portray the part in the original Broadway production.
“We tend to always be up for the same roles, so when I saw him do the part, that’s when I thought that I could do that,” Cornelious said with a laugh.
For years, Cornelious has worked on Broadway but decided to hit the road with “Sister Act” after his last two shows closed within a year.
“I thought it would be great to get back out on the road and get rejuvenated again,” he said. “And I’m having a blast with it.”
In addition, Cornelious has had audience members tell him they’ve enjoyed the musical more than the film.
“I definitely feel that it’s more in-your-face than before,” he said.
And Campbell said it’s a high-energy show that will keep a smile on the audiences’ faces.
“I guarantee that you’ll leave the theater humming, because it’s such a feel-good show from the very beginning to the end,” Campbell said.
IF YOU GO
What: “Sister Act”
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 25-28; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30
Where: ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Drive, Tempe
Information: (480) 965-3434 or www.asugammage.com