Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Front Page

Voices will soar in Lancaster High School’s production of ‘Sister Act’

by ALAN RIZZO Reporter


Dressed and ready to play their parts in Lancaster High School’s presentation of “Sister Act” next week, lead actors stand on stage during a rehearsal on Tuesday. From left are seniors Jaclyn Garmone and Ryan Keller, junior Dasia Cervi, senior Luke Hughes and junior Abigail Brudz. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Dressed and ready to play their parts in Lancaster High School’s presentation of “Sister Act” next week, lead actors stand on stage during a rehearsal on Tuesday. From left are seniors Jaclyn Garmone and Ryan Keller, junior Dasia Cervi, senior Luke Hughes and junior Abigail Brudz. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Soaring voices and transformative characters are the essence of “Sister Act,” and students at Lancaster High School are looking forward to bringing those elements to audiences next week when they present the show.

Set in Philadelphia in 1977, “Sister Act” the stage musical, like the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, is the story of aspiring singer Deloris Van Cartier, who hopes that performing for her nightclub owner boyfriend, Curtis Jackson, will land her a connection with a music producer, according to stage agent.com.

When Jackson dismisses her talent, she goes to break up with him, only to witness Jackson murdering one of his associates.


Lancaster High School junior Dasia Cervi, center, and the cast of “Sister Act” practice a number during a rehearsal on Tuesday. They will present the show in four performances next week, on Feb. 15, 16 and 17. 
Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Lancaster High School junior Dasia Cervi, center, and the cast of “Sister Act” practice a number during a rehearsal on Tuesday. They will present the show in four performances next week, on Feb. 15, 16 and 17. Photo by Kathleen KramerPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Fleeing to the police, she is placed in a convent for protection, until Jackson can be brought to trial.

At first Van Cartier feels restricted by convent life, but she soon comes to appreciate the nuns she lives with and finds a greater purpose in leading their struggling choir.

First produced in 2009, the show features a score by Alan Menken, songwriting by Glenn Slater and a script from Cheri and Bill Steinkellner.

Playing Van Cartier, junior Dasia Cervi is in her third show at the high school and her first lead role.

She said that as someone who is typically genial and a little laid back, portraying Deloris — a hot-tempered singer with a take-charge personality — has been quite the transition, and she’s been studying the Broadway performance closely.

“I find it hard to be a sassy person, because I’m generally not like that,” said Cervi during rehearsal last week, wearing Van Cartier’s initial getup of a flashy sequined dress and knee-high stiletto boots. “I can barely walk in these heels.”

Luke Hughes, now in his fourth show at LHS, has had a similar challenge portraying the ruthless Jackson.

“It’s so tough just to be mean all the time,” said the tall, soft-spoken senior, who has been trying to get into the role by channeling his own frustration into Jackson’s lines and songs.

Hughes said that’s especially important for the chase scene that takes place at the end of the show, where he is confronted by honest cop Eddie Souther.

“I have to try to shoot up the [convent], in a way,” he said. “I have to pretty much yell, scream.”

Senior Ryan Keller, who will play Souther, aka “Sweaty Eddie,” said the cop’s nervous disposition has been tough to rehearse, but he’s looking forward to his first lead role after transitioning from the pit band to a stage performance last year.

In particular, he can’t wait to sing “I Could Be That Guy,” the shy cop’s disco ballad about becoming the man of Deloris’ dreams.

“His song is absolutely amazing,” said Keller, thoroughly enjoying his pivotal role. “Right after Curtis sings about how he’s going to kill Deloris, then I come out and sing a love song about how I’m going to be that guy for Deloris.”

Like Souther, young nun Sister Mary Robert is a shy character who goes through a transformation, a new experience for junior Abigail Brudz, who’s in her third show at LHS and usually plays characters with “huge” personalities.

“Sister Mary Robert, at the beginning of the show, is not like that at all,” said Brudz, considering the nun’s transformation from a safe planner to a spontaneous decision maker an important lesson for audiences. “Deloris comes into the convent, and she just realizes that there’s so much more to life than just sticking to a plan. You can be spontaneous, and you can do more with yourself, and life doesn’t have to be a set plan.”

With a much stiffer personality — and a stiffer, older body — Mother Superior is anything but spontaneous, and senior Jaclyn Garmone said she’s had to work “twice as hard” as older actresses to get the matriarch’s mannerisms right.

“It comes more naturally to those actors, because they’re already older,” said Garmone, who plans to major in musical theater in college next year and is in her fourth show at LHS. “My voice changes a lot; I feel like it just has to be deeper and more refined, where, when you’re an older woman, I guess that’s more natural to you.”

She said it’s also been hard to be the only nun who’s mean to Cervi, a good friend, but is glad the two characters make peace in the end.

Gary Lee, director of choral ensembles at LHS and the show’s director, said approximately 160 students and six staff members are involved in presenting the musical this year, along with several parent volunteers helping create sets and costumes.

He said LHS chose to do “Sister Act” because having been recently released for high school use, it is fresher than older shows and matches well with the vocal strengths of the cast.

“We’ve got a lot of great voices, and not just a lot of great choral voices, a lot of great solo voices,” he said, noting that with the abundance of singers this year, he has added men’s and women’s choruses to some numbers to involve more students.

Lee said the music is something students are embracing, and something that appeals to him, having lived through the age of disco.

“I’m a child of the ’70s so it works for me,” he said, laughing. “When I say to them, ‘This musical is a lot of fun,’ the first thing they’ll say is, ‘I love the music.’”

“Sister Act” will be presented in three evening performances, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15, 16 and 17, and in one matinee performance at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, all of which will take place in the auditorium at Lancaster High School, 1 Forton Drive.

Tickets are $12 for the evening performances and $10 for the matinee. All seats are reserved. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the LHS box office between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on school days or by calling the office at 686-3255, ext. 9342.

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