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Draper Journal

Draper Historic Theatre’s ‘Sister Act’ brings laughter and a lot of heart

Sep 07, 2023 03:01PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

The sisters of Saint Katherine’s Parish are played by Cassidy Shumway, Katrina Smith, Alexsys Campbell, Nicole Scoubes and Angela Peterson in the Draper Historic Theatre production of “Sister Act.” (Photo courtesy of Beth Bruner)

Mya Sanchez, one of the actors who plays the lead role in the Draper Historic Theatre production of “Sister Act,” knows firsthand about the healing power of music. Her singing was the one thing that would soothe her little brother who was born prematurely and is on the autism spectrum. “Music became my life because it was his life,” she said.

A main theme of “Sister Act” is about the ability of music to heal rifts and bring people together. Nicole Scoubes, who has taken on the role of Mother Superior, said, “A lot of this show is about self-acceptance and tolerance and love of other people.” It is also a classic fish-out-of-water comedy.

The plot of “Sister Act” takes place in the late 1970s when an African-American disco singer named Deloris Van Cartier witnesses her gangster boyfriend commit a murder. As director Beth Bruner explained, “The police hide Deloris at a convent that has a really bad choir. At the same time, the local Catholic diocese is trying to close the convent and the Pope is coming to Philadelphia.” Deloris and Mother Superior clash as Deloris transforms the choir into a musical sensation and saves the convent.

Audiences may be familiar with the popular 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris. Bruner noted that the stage version has different music than the movie and also adds a romance between Deloris and the policeman who sets out to protect her. “It’s not what you’d expect,” she said.

Travis Wright plays the cop named Eddie. “I love storytelling,” he said. “I’ve always been fascinated by making things organic and real.”

Katrina Smith, one of the actors who plays the postulate, Mary Roberts, expressed similar thoughts. “I put a lot of myself into this role,” she said. “Mary is very shy. It’s not until Deloris brings out her voice that she starts discovering who she is,” Smith said.

Sanchez spoke of being able to play the emotions on stage as Deloris undergoes a character transformation. “Deloris is finding new beginnings,” Sanchez said. She explained that she played the role once before in high school. “As an adult, the perspective is 100% different. You’re bringing real life into the performance you’re giving,” she said.

As in most productions at Draper Historic Theatre, “Sister Act” has been double-cast. The difference here is that the actors who play the lead roles one evening appear in the ensemble on alternate nights. This has resulted in a tight-knit cast.

Bruner, who has directed theatrical productions in venues all over the Salt Lake area for over 30 years, is taking a novel approach to staging “Sister Act.” “It’s about a choir bringing people into the convent,” she said. “We are staging it in such a way that the audience is the congregation.”

Because of the staging, there will be a little more give and take between the audience and the actors. “The more people that come the better the show is going to be because of that interaction,” Sanchez said.

In the role of Deloris’ gangster boyfriend, Eric Smith joked that he is “channeling my inner Tony Soprano” for the part. He is enjoying being part of the “Sister Act” cast. “If you want lots of laughs and a great message at the end, come see this show,” he said. “You’ll walk out in a better mood.”

Sophie Manzanares, who also plays Mary Roberts, added, “It’s hilarious! This show is just so fun to watch.”

Scoubes explained that at first Mother Superior thinks that the style of music Deloris brings to the convent is sacrilegious. In the end, however, “she learns to love her like a sister. There is a lot of love and laughter in this show.”  

Draper Historic Theatre presents “Sister Act” Sept. 8 through 25 at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinee performances on Sept. 9, 16 and 23. The theater is located at 12366 S. 900 East. For tickets and more information, visitλ