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Beef & Boards continues its 2016 season with a rousing production of Sister Act, the 2011 Broadway musical which was adapted from the popular 1992 film that starred Whoopie Goldberg. The story concerns Deloris Van Cartier, a lounge singer sent into hiding from her mobster boyfriend after having witnessed a murder. She is hidden among a group of nuns, with quite entertaining results as she transforms their failing parish into a widely heralded showplace.

The stellar cast is headlined by Zuri Washington as Ms. Van Cartier, Suzanne Stark as the Mother Superior, Lamont O’Neal as Lt. Eddie Souther, and Gabrielle Harker as the novice – Sister Mary Robert. This group is supported by an outstanding cadre of character actors, singers and dancers, many of whom are new to the B&B stage.

Deloris Van Cartier

Zuri Washington stars as Deloris Van Cartier in B&B’s production of “Sister Act”

Ms. Washington is wonderful as Deloris and shows a certain star quality in her performance. Her powerful range of singing, along with a marvelous stage presence, makes her a sure candidate to return to this stage in the future. Ms. Stark, always a favorite with the local audiences, continues her superb string of successes here with her well-acted, well-sung Mother Superior role – her creative rendition of “Haven’t Got A Prayer” being a case in point.

Sister Act B&B

Left: Sister Mary Robert (Gabrielle Harker) envisions “The Life I Never Led”.                     Right: Mother Superior (Suzanne Stark) meets Deloris Van Cartier (Zuri Washington) in B&B’s “Sister Act”.

O’Neal reprises his role as Lt. Souther from the recent National Tour of this show, which allows for a certain confidence in his portrayal. Lightly treading in his comic guise, it is when he takes the stage with “I Could Be That Guy” that we see the full range of his abilities. Ms. Harker brings the house down with her great vocal turn of “The Life I Never Led”. This young lady also seems to be destined for great things based on the talent we saw last night. She was a thrill to watch and I hope to see her onstage again soon.

I Could Be That Guy

Lt. Eddie Souther (Lamont O’Neal) imagines if “I Could Be That Guy” in B&B’s “Sister Act”

Standouts in the supporting cast include Erick Pinnick as the ruthless gangster Curtis Shank, while Grace Sell delights as Sister Mary Patrick, as does Susan Boilek Smith with her Sister Mary Lazurus. Douglas E. Stark is an energetic Monsignor O’Hara, and Samuel McKanney brings on a lively teenaged T.J.

Deloris leads the nuns

Deloris (Zuri Washington) leads the sisters in song in B&B’s “Sister Act”

Mr. Stark also directs the cast to an up-tempo pace, while engineering the many quick set changes with aplomb. Ron Morgan adds his usual deft choreography, producing the interesting spectacle of bouncy nuns. Terry Woods leads the outstanding B&B orchestra through the peppy score, and Jill Kelly’s costume designs are sparkly and inventive, with an eye on reflection and color – if only nuns’ habits were really gold lamé.

Chef Odell Ward’s buffet menu includes a wonderful Honey-Pecan Fried Chicken along with the usual fine variety of meats, veggies and salads. Of course, B&B employs the most attentive wait-staff in the city, so your satisfaction is assured.

Sister Act continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through March 26th. Show times and reservations can be obtained at http://www.beefandboards.com or by calling 317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry
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