“Raise Your Voice” is the penultimate song of the first act of “Sister Act: The Musical,” playing at Johnstown High School this Friday & Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m.
It gives audiences everything they’re looking for in a stage show based on “Sister Act,” the popular 1992 comedy film starring Whoopi Goldberg. There are quirky nuns adorably learning how to sing; uplifting spiritual songs; and plentiful joyful noises.
The basic outline of the movie’s plot remains intact: nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier inadvertently witnesses her mobster boyfriend commit a murder, and hides out in a convent to avoid getting whacked by his mob. While posing as a nun, she butts heads with the stern Mother Superior, turns the convent’s lackluster choir into a musical powerhouse, and inadvertently puts her life, and the nuns’ lives, at risk.
JHS junior Heidi Chamberlain’s dynamic, superbly sung performance as Deloris is phenomenal, including her impressive performance of the title song. She truly comes into her own when Deloris sheds her purse full of wisecracks and begins bonding with the friendly nuns.
The secondary characters delight and amaze. Grace Michenzi makes a terrific foil as Mother Superior, battling her own frustration with change and her faith, and delivering the stunning solo “I Haven’t Got a Prayer.” Sarah Martelle as Sister Mary Robert, a pipsqueak with the voice of a giant, grows up before our eyes, and astounds with her ballad “The life I Never Led.” Charlie Osborne is sweet and soulful as the cop Eddie Souther who pines for Deloris.
Scene-stealing supporting players also get time in the spotlight, including Zach Hayes as the caring, droll Monsignor and Hunter Hill as a smooth rich voiced mobster, together with his gang played by Jeff Salatel, Gabe Cole and Cameron Polidore. The nuns get a big share of the laughs, with genial comic finesse by Jordyn Stoutner as the jolly Sister Mary Patrick and Ashley Ackernecht as the sarcastic Mary Lazarus, who has a hidden and unexpected talent.
The ensemble consists of Samuel Miller, Conner Edel, Emily Barker, Madison Collins, Julia Airey, Anna Crouse, Gina Franko, Ashlee Cotton, Saphire Bush, Anastasija Morse and Isabella Dittmer.
The production is directed by Michael S. Burnett; music direction – Cynthia Wood; choreography – Wood and Emily Barker; costume coordinator – Darlene D’Onofrio; costume designer – Diane Dillenbeck; costume assistants – Linda Panthen & Pam Baran; and set design and technical director – Burnett.
Stage Crew members are Cece Radalin and Katie Diener (Stage Managers), Andy Sitterly (Lighting), Maddie Willett (Sound), and Taylor Darling & Jacob Frenyea (Follow spots).
Band members include Sophia Hayes – piano; Katt Cummings – reeds; Alex Pratt – trumpet; Cindy Wood – bass; and Augustus D’Amore & Lillie Nevins – percussion.
Tickets are available at the door, $12 adults and $8 students.