Are you there, God? Please make the Sister Act musical, which starts previews at the Broadway Theatre tonight, a half-decent homage to the Whoopi Goldberg film that briefly made catechism cool in 1992. Deliver it from the mostly tepid reviews that met its 2009 London debut. Let Xanadu’s Douglas Carter Beane, who officially joined the creative team last month (but tells EW he’d been working on the play since November) have added the laughs that British critics claimed the book by Emmy-winning Cheers writers Cheri and Bill Steinkellner lacked. And have faith that he didn’t touch what they liked about it: Its heart. “Sister Act is one of my favorite movies,” says Beane. “I want it to be a fun adventure for everybody. I come to shows and bring the silly stuff and the crying stuff – I’m here for the giggles and the tears.”
Also, God, please forgive Alan Menken for having to replace the film’s pop music with original songs, which did make me tap my toes during a recent press performance. And pardon whoever decided to move the action back in time to the 1970s. It just might work. Star Patina Miller, who earned an Olivier-nomination for filling Whoopi’s habit abroad, can certainly belt out a tune. She also knows what she’s up against: “My brother, sister, and I played the film until we memorized all the words,” she claims. “It’s a lot to live up to.”
Miller says the number “Raise Your Voice” is her favorite (“It’s such an electrifying moment when Deloris teaches the nuns how to sing for the first time”), so I embedded of video of her performing it with the U.K. cast below. Just for kicks, I also included the film’s finale, when the nuns sing “I Will Follow Him” to Pope John Paul II. As always, you be the judge.
P.S. As for Ghost: The Musical, which premieres in Manchester in the U.K. on March 28, we’ll chat about that later.