Sister Act The Musical: A tight blending of fun, faith, and feminism

by Yugel Losorata
Jul 3, 2017
The Manila run of Sister Act is being staged at The Theatre in Solaire until July 9, 2017.

Even when the nuns of Sister Act The Musical were obviously trying to sing off-key in one of the sequences, they were still giving the ears something to be amused of.

On that note, the stage adaptation of the 1992 movie hit classic never really went off tune in front of Filipino audiences as it is currently being staged at The Theatre in Solaire until July 9, 2017.

During the gala, a gathering of well-dressed stage play goers and familiar faces from the high-end local music scene came in and laughed at the right points while watching Deloris Van Cartier (a lead character originally made famous by Hollywood actress Whoopi Goldberg) and her support cast of punchline-happy singers perform with precision via a familiar plot that empowers nuns in an out-of-the-box, fun way.

While you can expect to get yourself loads of hearty laughs, still the main menu to devour is the singing, or in particular, the blending of voices.

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Filipinos may be known for being natural-born singers, but few are likely to tell you that he or she wants to focus on doing second-voicing, or just be part of a vocal ensemble. Small wonder we have a scarcity of famous vocal groups and always, for the longest time, the one that first comes to mind is The CompanY. (Yes you bet the members of this group were in attendance and Moy Ortiz was seen after the show in all his powder blue suit glory.)

Watching Sister Act inspires viewers to see the immense power of blending in well. As Deloris (played by Patricia Miller) implied to a nun character, "You have to blend. You are part of a group."

Other musicals usually feature loads of solos. In this one, the star is the group singing. What the late Michael Jackson did to change the way we see zombies—by letting them dance to the tune of "Thriller," actress Whoopi Goldberg, the show's producer, did the same to nuns. Some of us should recall that when Madonna came out with her "Like A Prayer" video, it stirred controversy.

When Sister Act the movie came out, everybody hailed and took the trick by heart.

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That the nuns were harmonizing live, and not through some well-mixed overdubbed production, made for a breathtaking experience. From such tight-singing comes the deeper understanding of what the comedy play is really about.

After all the laughter and fun, one may find it heartwarming that it is actually faith and the feminine force that were being paraded right in front of us: the faith of keeping a church intact and bringing back the people to solemnly pray in, and the force of feminism that the nuns showcase in full force.

Described as "Gloriously Broadway," Sister Act The Musical features in most parts the art of comic timing without being too theatrical. It is the mark of a world-class act, with actors knowing when to deliver the punchline at the right time and not forcing it through overacting and outlandish body movements. Some amateurish plays here in the Philippines tend to fall corny pray for that.

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At the other side of the coin, the set designs are okay but not to the point of being marvelous. Somehow we were expecting some illuminating stage backdrop of religious spectacle that would solicit some gasps and cheers. Or, perhaps it works not to be overarching in terms of stage props in that it gave the audience's attention to the singing and acting more.

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Filipino parents cannot expect their rock chic daughters to erase their tatoos and enter the convent after watching this musical. But they shouldn't be surprised if they'd sound more empowered hours after seeing Sister Act. That's the Deloris effect: the hope that every woman can change the game with her voice, tenacity, and allure.

But not only the women characters like Mother Superior and Sister Mary Robert are the ones to watch, even the men shone brightly.

The trio of Joey, TJ, and Pablo is remarkably memorable that having a spin-off production focusing on them is not the baddest idea.

Eddie, of course, is fun and charming. His wacky walk done at the climax could be acquired as a dance step by Pinoy groups like the G-Force.

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Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.

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The Manila run of Sister Act is being staged at The Theatre in Solaire until July 9, 2017.
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