“Sister Act ” considered one of Hollywood’s more improbable screenplays, follows the escapades of a lounge singer who is given protective custody inside a convent after witnessing a mob murder.
Starring Whoopi Goldberg as the singer who masquerades as a nun, the riotous comedy defied expectations and became one of the most successful films of 1992, grossing more than $231 million internationally.
More than a decade later, the film was reimagined as a stage musical, this time with Goldberg as producer. Following a successful run in London’s West End, “Sister Act” opened on Broadway where it ran for 561 performances.
A national touring production based on Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s stage version comes to Oklahoma City this week for eight performances. Produced locally by Celebrity Attractions, “Sister Act” brings the 2013-14 season to a close.
Hollis Resnik and Ta’Rea Campbell head the cast as Mother Superior and Deloris van Cartier, respectively, two characters whose very different backgrounds pit them as unlikely adversaries.
“I don’t think these people are terribly complex; they’re just set in their ways and they have emotional barriers” Resnik said recently. “Mother Superior and Deloris are never going to become best friends, but they do develop a mutual respect for each other. I think Deloris finds that spark of divinity by finally giving, instead of demanding attention ”
For Campbell, who has starred in the Broadway productions of “The Lion King ” “Leap of Faith ” “The Book of Mormon” and “Aida ” playing the dual roles of Deloris van Cartier and Sister Mary Clarence requires no small degree of stamina.
“The first number in the show (‘Take Me to Heaven’) is really high energy so I really have to pace myself” Campbell said. “And because the rest of the production is just as demanding, I didn’t stop feeling completely insane until about three or four weeks into the run ”
Resnik said she relishes playing the conflict that arises between her character and Mary Clarence, situations that move the plot forward but also provide considerable humor.
“When you have an adversarial situation that has comedic elements, it’s really great ” Resnik said. “The script is very clever and very well written. Timing can be difficult but if you’re committed, the show flies along ”
Religious humor has long been a staple of the theater, from “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” and “Late Nite Catechism” to “Nunsense” and its many sequels . Campbell said people who wait to meet the cast at the stage door often remark that the order of nuns portrayed in this musical are “the nicest nuns they’ve ever had to deal with ”
Resnik, who has had starring roles in “Candide ” “Grey Gardens” and “The Light in the Piazza ” enjoys the journey that the musical’s leading characters take in “Sister Act ” For unsuspecting audience members, the outcome can be surprising.
“Mother Superior is relatively close-minded at the beginning of the show” Resnik said.
“Then she comes up against this energy that is completely different. As her heart starts to open, you discover she is capable of change.
“The beauty in this musical is that two people from very different walks of life can come to an understanding. Everybody gets that message and I think that touches the audience a lot ”
• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. May 25.
• Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
• Information: (800) 869-1451 or www.celebrityattractions.com .