TWIN FALLS — If you’re in protective custody, a convent seems like a pretty good place to hide. Dilettante Group of Magic Valley performs “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy” March 1-4 at the College of Southern Idaho’s Fine Arts Auditorium in Twin Falls.
It’s based on the popular 1992 movie, starring Whoopi Goldberg. It takes place in the 1970s and tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a singer who witnesses a murder. Police place her in protective custody and take her to a convent to hide away as a nun.
Alexis Ulrich of Twin Falls — who plays Deloris — has been in previous productions by different theater groups around town. She said she wanted to get involved with the “Sister Act” musical because she loves Goldberg in the movie.
She described her character, Deloris, as fun, outspoken, bright and vivacious. “She is a strong, independent black woman,” said Ulrich, who is African-American.
When Deloris is thrust into the convent, the nuns help her out in life, Ulrich said. “She becomes more emotional and empathetic.”
And for the nuns, she brings the outside world to them. They all learn from each other, Ulrich said, adding the show is beautiful and includes strong themes of sisterhood and friendship.
To prepare for the production, she has done a lot of vocal work. The songs in the musical are different than the movie, she said, but “these songs, you can love them just as much.”
Troy and Lori Henson saw a production of “Sister Act” on Broadway a few years ago. “We just had it in the back of our heads for a long time,” said Troy, a board member for the Dilettante Group of Magic Valley.
They decided to move forward with staging it in Twin Falls. Lori is the production’s director.
It’s a great show for community theater, Troy said, because it’s a cast dominated by women, who tend to be the majority of those participating in local productions. Of an approximately 35-member cast, about 25 are nuns.
A challenge with the musical, though, is very difficult music with multi-part harmonies, Troy said.
The actresses who play nuns range in age from 14 — girls who would be too young to be nuns in real life — to a woman who held her 80th birthday party last week, Troy said. “We have a good diversity in this show.”
One woman who plays a nun uses a wheelchair regularly. “We are very excited to have her in a show,” Troy said.
The cast — which started rehearsing in January — includes high school and college students, and people in a variety of careers, including teachers and hospital employees.
During a rehearsal Thursday night in the basement of First Presbyterian Church of Twin Falls, the cast practiced the end of the musical. Nearby, one group was working on a dance in a hallway. Costumes were laid out in a different room.
When the cast was done with the curtain call and final song of the production, Lori said: “You have to learn the words to the song.” Too many people, she said, also didn’t have a clue what they were doing with choreography.
She told the cast to grab their music. She went to a piano and they rehearsed the final song. As the cast sang, Lori said: “Stop. Could I please hear the sopranos there?”
After a little rehearsal time, Lori commented: “That was really good. It has to be that good. From the top.”