Thursday, December 01, 2011

"Sister Act": a diva "takes the hint" from a convent (Whoopi Goldberg's musical)


Broadway musical, as an artistic form, is different from plays and film in the sense that the music and visual stage effects take off on their own, in a kind of abstraction.  That can mean that eventual film adaptation won’t have anything like the stage effect.

It’s almost impossible to see “The Book of Mormon” reasonably, but “Sister Act”, produced by Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment at the Broadway Theater, also starts off delving into the ambiguous morality of religious conviction. The music is by Alan Menken, and has several songs that are very familiar, at least one of which commonly plays in (gay) discos and even shows up in Apple Loops.  The lyrics are by Glenn Slater and Cherri and Bill SteinKellner.  And imdb shows a film from 1992 from Touchstone Pictures and director Emile Ardolino with Whoopi as Delores. It does not appear to have the same music.

Now, on stage, Patina Miller plays the diva, who witnesses a mob hit accidentally and needs “witness protection”.  She finds it in a convent, where the Mother Superior tells her to “take the hint” (that phrase could have become a song) about her values.  That is to say, more than perform in life and even pay her dues, she was to go along with God’s plan and be prepared to sacrifice for others, according to a variable personal calling.

But the diva’s values become infectious to the convent, and the comedy takes off, and the songs soar as the sisters sing, accommodating their spiritual values with earthly happiness. Indeed, “Spread the love around.”  At one point, two “bachelors” (a gay couple – J. Edgar and Clyde, maybe) plan to “buy the church” – but they’re so pleased with the collections the diva generates that the church survives.  It gets its new building.  

The stage effects with the Virgin Mary (who seems a bit like a golden calf idol) and all the variable colors dazzle at the end.

Tonight, the theater was honoring World AIDS Day with a special collection. (The seats for the show are reasonably priced.  But $10 for a coke at concessions is just too much.)

The website is this

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