published Friday, September 21st, 2012

'Sister Act': National tour of Broadway musical fine-tunes its performance in Chattanooga

Ta'Rea Campbell, left, as Deloris Van Cartier, rehearses with Hollis Resnik, as Mother Superior, Tuesday for Sister Act at Memorial Auditorium.
Ta'Rea Campbell, left, as Deloris Van Cartier, rehearses with Hollis Resnik, as Mother Superior, Tuesday for Sister Act at Memorial Auditorium.
Photo by Angela Lewis.
IF YOU GO

• What: "Sister Act"

• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

• Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.

• Admission: $32.50-$57.50 plus fees, $20 discount for ages 17 and younger.

• Phone: 642-TIXS.

• Website: www.ChattanoogaOnStage.com.

Chattanoogans have the rare opportunity to see a Broadway production without leaving the city limits -- and that's "the good news" being shared by the nuns of "Sister Act."

The North American tour of the popular musical comedy is preparing to launch from Chattanooga. Before the 57-member cast and crew hit the road, they will present two performances in Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

"Sister Act" is based on the popular movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub singer on the lam after witnessing a murder. The detective investigating the murder puts Deloris in witness protection, hiding her in the one place he believes no one would ever think to look for the sassy, sequined diva: a convent.

While the plots for the movie and Broadway show are the same, the music is not. "Sister Act" the musical boasts an original score by Alan Menken, a Tony Award and eight-time Oscar winner.

Playing the role of Deloris in this stage show is Ta'Rea Campbell. Her credits include playing Nala in "The Lion King" on Broadway and in the touring production -- a total of five years in the role.

In a phone interview, Campbell said a 12-piece orchestra is traveling with the show, which is produced by Goldberg, Stage Entertainment and Troika Entertainment.

Just two weeks after the Broadway production of "Sister Act" closed at the end of August, the crew for the national tour arrived at Memorial Auditorium to begin tech rehearsals for the stage show. This musical is one of several -- "Gypsy," "Man of La Mancha," "Legally Blonde" and "Dr. Dolittle" -- that have chosen Chattanooga to fine-tune a production before launching national tours.

"They loaded everything into several trucks and hauled it here from New York," said Donna Landry, marketing director for the auditorium. "They've been trying to figure out how to turn a resident company, that doesn't move, into a road tour, which has different logistics. They have to figure out how to take everything apart, pack it all in a series of trucks, unpack it at the next location and put it all back together again -- which is a lot harder than if you are in a theater and playing in one place every night," she said.

Campbell said the cast has been in rehearsals in New York City since Aug. 20. They arrived in town Sunday and have been rehearsing at the auditorium all this week.

The two public performances Tuesday and Wednesday nights provide the cast and crew the opportunity to run through the whole show for an audience before their first performance on Oct. 2 in Toronto.

Campbell said "Sister Act" is a funny show that the family will enjoy. It is appropriate for children 10 and older.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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