Review: ‘Sister Act’ at Woodland Opera House

Sister Act: Fri 7:30, Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm; Through 2/2; $7-$25; Woodland Opera House, 340 2nd St., Woodland; (530) 666-9617;
Rated 5.0

Sister Act is one joyous musical from start to finish.

Based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, the stage musical adds music by Alan Menken with lyrics by Glenn Slater. But it takes it over the top, losing the more personal, poignant pieces of the story—so flashy it's like the nuns had moved from a low-income parish to the Vegas stage.

Deborah Hammond is Deloris Van Cartier, a lounge singer under the thumb of her gangster boyfriend Curtis (David Ewey) who witnesses a murder he commits. Fearing her life is in danger, Deloris reports to police officer Eddie (Erik Catalan), who hides her in a local convent under the name Sister Mary Clarence.

Hammond is magnificent with a powerful voice that raises the roof. Each of the ten numbers in which she is featured are wonderful.

Lenore Sebastian as Mother Superior is every bit her equal, frustrated with having to hide a woman she does not approve, who is such a disruption to her quiet convent. Her anguished “I Haven't Got a Prayer,” where she tries to ask God for guidance, was a stand-out.

When Sister Mary Clarence makes improvements in the convent choir, it brings parishioners back to the church and eventually becomes a news story. It all ends gloriously with the nuns—in their Vegas-worthy habits—coming to Deloris' aid when Curtis shows up to kill her, and they receive a well-deserved standing ovation.