After leaving the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2006, I needed a “side-hustle” to support my acting career. Eva DeVirgilis, the amazingly talented playwright and performer of our upcoming World Premiere, In My Chair, talks about this in her play. Her hustle was make-up; mine was personal training.
One of my dear friends in the theater, Nick Demos, (who I met while playing Will Parker in Oklahoma! at The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma where he was Artistic Director at the time), earned a Tony Award for producing Memphis in 2010. As a Tony Award-winner, he had the privilege of being a Tony voter for the next few years. I gave Nick really cheap personal training in exchange for first dibs on his second ticket to all the shows he was required to see.
I think it was early in 2011 when Nick and I went to see Sister Act on Broadway. Now, you have to know, I consider myself a very serious theater-goer. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good musical comedy, but if I’m paying Broadway prices, I’m usually going for the meatiest, most substantive play I can sink my teeth into. Despite that, Sister Act ranks among my top three most enjoyable Broadway experiences (alongside Peter and the Starcatcher and the You Can’t Take it With You revival from 2014).
Little did I know, seven years later, I would be equally ecstatic about the production of Sister Act now playing at Virginia Rep. I admit, at the time we programmed the show, it seemed simply like really good, wholesome fun for the whole family at the holidays. It is certainly that, and then some, with the amazing cast we have. But I was struck on Opening Night by what a perfect play it is for this moment.
On the outside, it is a sweet and hilarious confection to be enjoyed by all, but on the inside, it delivers the holiday message of seeing the value of another human being, no matter how different they may be. Felicia Curry and Andrea Rivette give a masterclass in musical theatre performance, embodying two characters separated by religion, race, and life experience. They begin the play utterly opposed to each other’s point of view, and offended by every word out of the other’s mouth. By the end, there is mutual admiration, understanding, respect, and even love. By the end, they are indeed Sisters.
Happy Holidays, Richmond. We are so grateful you choose to share a night or two of this busy season with us.
Sister Act is on stage through January 6 at the November Theatre.