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Draper Journal

Friendship is divine in Draper Arts Council’s ‘Sister Act’

Aug 05, 2019 04:16PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Deloris Van Cartier and her “sisters” are ready to sing in Draper Arts Council’s “Sister Act” at Draper Amphitheater. (Katherine Weinstein/City Journals)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

When actress Kortney King-Lives saw the musical “Sister Act” with her grandmother in Las Vegas, her grandma made a prediction. “My grandma told me, ‘You’re going to play this part one day,’” said King-Lives of the lead role, spunky nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier. The prediction came true. This August, she is playing Deloris in the Draper Arts Council production of “Sister Act” at Draper Amphitheater.

King-Lives, who has been acting since 2009, is thrilled with the part. “I love how energetic the role is,” she said. “It’s a role that’s about self-discovery and about how other people can bring out the best in you.” 

Based on the 1992 hit film starring Whoopi Goldberg, “Sister Act” the musical was staged first in Pasadena, California in 2006 and then in London’s West End in 2009 before moving to Broadway and beyond. The book was written by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner, who turned out scripts for the TV classic “Cheers.” The musical score is by Alan Menken, composer for Disney films such as “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” 

“People think of the movie,” said Director Bruce Craven of “Sister Act.” “We want to be true to the original but it’s also different.” The musical is set in Philadelphia in the late 70s, an era that leaves its mark on the style of the show’s musical score. “It’s a little disco, a little rock-and-roll,” said Craven. 

In the musical, Deloris Van Cartier is a nightclub singer with aspirations of stardom. When she accidentally witnesses a murder, she becomes the target of a group of gangsters, led by shady club owner Curtis Jackson. Placed in a convent under the Witness Protection Program, Deloris initially chafes under the restrictions of religious life but is transformed when she takes over the convent choir. 

“Deloris brings in a gospel element to the choir,” said King-Lives. The revamped choir becomes tremendously successful and the friendship between Deloris and the “sisters” is cemented. The nuns come to Deloris’s aid when Jackson and the gangsters come after her.

“It’s a classic musical,” said Craven. “There are a bunch of numbers that will leave you singing and a lot of fun characters.” 

In musical theater, of course, even the bad guys break into song. The gangsters play a larger part in the musical and sing harmonies reminiscent of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In fact, playing a villain in the show means walking a fine line as an actor. Devin Spann, who plays Curtis Jackson, explained that he is “trying to find a balance to keep things light but also convey that Deloris will be in trouble if I find her.” 

Spann, who has performed in over 15 shows at theaters in Orem and the Salt Lake Valley, is enjoying the rehearsal process for this production. “Being part of a show is like living a dream. It’s so fun!” he said. “I feel like we’re just getting started and everyone picked up the music so quickly.”  

“It is a very music-heavy show,” said Music Director Emily Hawkes. The cast has been working hard to master the songs. “I am super impressed with the talent,” Hawkes added. 

Jenni McKay, who plays the shy postulate Sister Mary Robert, wasn’t familiar with “Sister Act” initially. “I have been so surprised at how much I love the music,” said McKay. “It’s so funny too, really clever writing.” The musical pokes gentle fun at organized religion. “But it also respects it,” said McKay. “It’s inspiring. In the end, Deloris wants to be with her sisters.” 

Hawkes describes “Sister Act” as “unexpectedly funny but sweet and heart-warming. I think it’s a hidden gem, not many people know about it.” 

Craven, who has been involved with Draper Arts Council as an actor and director for over 20 years, added, “This is a great time to come out on a late summer night and be entertained.”

Draper Arts Council will present “Sister Act” at Draper Amphitheater Aug. 30, 31 and Sept. 2, 6 and 7. Draper Amphitheater is located at 944 Vestry Road in Draper. Tickets are available two weeks prior to the first performance at