‘Sister Act’: Thriving on a prayer

From left, Florrie Bagel, Lael Van Keuren and Ta'Rea Campbell star in “Sister Act,” running through Sunday.

Though “Sister Act” may never rank among the all-time greats, the rollicking gang of nuns onstage at the Boston Opera House is a delight to behold. With a ’70s-inspired disco score that features “Take Me to Heaven” and “Sunday Morning Fever,” it’s hard not to tap right along as they gleefully romp their way through to the big dance mix finish.

Set in 1979 Philadelphia, the flimsy plot (which remains largely true to the film) is rife with kitschy humor and cultural references. The production captures the essence of the disco era with its costumes and hair, while the ensemble nails the mannerisms and dance moves of the time.

While the audience roars at a range of religious jokes, the humor is decidedly Catholic. It’s easy to spot those who weren’t raised Catholic: They’re not laughing at the inside humor and malapropisms like prostitute instead of postulant. They are, however, still able to enjoy this fun though somewhat forgettable musical.

As much as you’ll laugh at the nuns getting funky, shake your groove thing from your seat and applaud enthusiastically at curtain call, “Sister Act” isn’t something you’ll be talking about for long. Yes, it’s a Tony-nominated Broadway musical, but it’s also wholesome fluff where the wisecracks and the wise guys lack cynicism and substance.

Ta’Rea Campbell leads a vocally strong ensemble as lounge-singer-turned-nun Deloris Van Cartier while Lael Van Keuren shines as awkward, young Sister Mary Robert. If you’re old enough to remember Rerun, you’ll certainly enjoy Charles Barksdale’s delightful turn as TJ. 

‘Sister Act’
Tonight through Feb. 3
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston
$43-$143, 800-982-2787
www.broadwayinboston.com


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