Quince Orchard High School
Christmas Eve, 1977. Donna Summer is on the radio, Paul XI is on the papal throne, and Deloris Van Cartier just witnessed a murder.
That's only the beginning of Sister Act at Fairfax High School! An upbeat tribute to disco, sequins, and sisterhood, this groovy musical is as entertaining as it is inspiring.
Based on the 1992 movie of the same name, Sister Act is a musical with lyrics by Glenn Slater and score by Alan Menken. The original West End production was nominated for five Olivier Awards, and was followed by a Broadway run and a US tour. Set in 1970s Philadelphia, the show follows Deloris Van Cartier, an aspiring lounge singer placed under witness protection after watching her gangster boyfriend commit murder. Disguised as a Catholic nun, "Sister Mary Clarence" revolutionizes the run-down convent by teaching the nuns to sing, while learning from them what she really wants out of life.
Isabella Jackson as Deloris Cartier was nothing less than "Fabulous, Baby!" Commanding attention every moment onstage, Jackson skillfully portrayed Deloris' progression from frivolous showgirl to selfless and caring sister while never losing her character's confidence, spirit, and sass. Jackson's vocal versatility greatly aided Deloris's development, as she approached soft ballads and flashy showstoppers with equal skill and soul. Jackson also crafted authentic relationships with her fellow cast members, especially Logan Baker as Mother Superior. The pair played well off each other, evolving from sniping rivals to sincere allies and friends. Baker also possessed a wonderful comedic instinct, precisely delivering dry one-liners with impeccable timing.
Backing up Deloris was an ensemble of nuns, whose undeniable camaraderie lifted the convent to new heights. The nuns created an engaging unit, while giving each sister a chance to shine. Especially notable was Kaylee Williams, whose Sister Mary Robert transformed from shy to sparkling over the course of the show. The peak of Williams' performance as the solo "The Life I Never Led," which displayed her remarkable grasp of her character, as well as a stunning belt. Other standouts from the ensemble include the ever-perky Sister Mary Patrick (Ann Marie Seybold) and the crotchety Sister Mary Lazarus (Kat Pascaul), both of whom developed memorable characters and demonstrated excellent comedic chops.
This dynamic show was further energized by the efforts of its tech crews. Lighting design by Taehyun Lee, Johanna Carroll, and John Mark Perry featured bright colors, as well as a shimmering disco ball that contributed a retro flair to several numbers. Costumes (provided by Gaby Adumua and Evelyn Ma) included bedazzled habits in black, silver, and gold - revealed during quick changes that were seamlessly integrated into Logan Baker and Victoria Collins-Jost's choreography. Tying the show together was its professional-quality pit orchestra (conducted by student Jake Bae), who exhibited exceptional endurance in their performance, and contributed to the mood and intensity of every scene.
With energy, commitment, and plenty of "Sunday Morning Fever," Sister Act at Fairfax High School is truly blessed.
W.T. Woodson High School
Fairfax High School's Sister Act has proved that there is nothing that a little sequins and glitter can't fix. Through the graffiti covered backstreets of Philadelphia to the stained-glass windows of a convent, Fairfax's stunning musical had audiences enveloped in song (and prayer)!
A hilarious musical comedy, Sister Act, was based on the 1992 film by the same name and went on to be a Broadway hit. The music consists of groovy 70's Motown with a more modest gospel blend done by Oscar-winning Alan Menken. The plot follows Deloris Van Cartier, an aspiring singer who accidentally witnesses a murder committed by her mobster boyfriend. After reporting the incident to Eddie, a desk chief for the Philadelphia police, Deloris gets sent to a witness protection program in a place her newly ex-boyfriend would never have thought to look-a nunnery. While Deloris is in hiding, she is forced to take on a new lifestyle and finds out that being a Sister means changing lives beyond just her own.
Whether dressed head to toe in black or rocking funky pink heels, Isabella Jackson proved that she had what it took to be both a popstar and a nun. Playing Deloris, Jackson was an absolute gem on the stage. From her commanding presence to the strength in her voice, there was nothing about Jackson that did not scream power. In the very opening scene of the show, Jackson displayed her intense vocal powerhouse in "Take Me To Heaven" while performing in a nightclub, however, later on produced a much gentler and more vulnerable sound in "Sister Act." The contrast between these two songs demonstrated Jackson's vocal versatility and range.
Singing alongside Deloris was the young and sweet Sister Mary Robert. Mary Robert, played by Kaylee Williams, blossomed throughout the course of the show from a shy, obedient nun to a girl who was wild and free. As Williams' character grew more confident, so did her singing. By the end of the musical, Williams was full-on belting notes that audience members at the beginning of the show never would have guessed were able to emerge from her initial reserved self.
Portraying Philadelphia's sweatiest policeman, Nate Smith took on the role of the love-interest, Eddie. Much like Sister Mary Robert, Eddie was a character that went through major development during the story. Although awkward and stiff at first, it was not long before Smith was wiggling his hips and getting groovy with some Philly homeless folks. In "I Could Be That Guy," Smith belted out crystal clear notes while his police uniform was ripped off to reveal a red disco outfit made for dancing out his cool-guy fantasies. When the song ended and reality hit, his clothes were torn apart again in a return to his plain police uniform.
These impressive outfit reveals would not have been possible without the amazing costumes designed by Gaby Adumua and Evelyn Ma. Their 70's inspired looks were especially illustrated through Deloris's ex-boyfriend's goons. The three boys in his gang wore half-buttoned button downs, bright blazers, and colorful flared slacks. The groovy trio looked like they were ready to pull out The Disco Finger at any given moment. A final element that brought the show above and beyond was the student-directed orchestra pit. Conductor Jake Bae led student musicians in playing flawless accompaniment for the show and coordinated with sound and lighting cues.
Sister Act is a musical that is difficult both vocally and technically, but Fairfax High School executed a flawless production that had no shortage of glitz and glamor to accompany its breathtaking performances.