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Berkeley takes on Sister Act

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A different look: Sister Act – The Musical opens at The Berkeley Institute tonight at 6.30pm and continues on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 4pm. Tickets are $25 (Photograph supplied)

Opening tonight at The Berkeley Institute – Sister Act: The Musical.

Based on the 1992 hit film starring Whoopi Goldberg, the show received numerous accolades when it opened on Broadway nearly 20 years later.

Both the movie and the musical follow the story of Deloris, aka Sister Mary Clarence, a Las Vegas performer who hides out in a convent after witnessing a murder.

Surrounded by nuns she puts her “sparkling people skills and love of music” to work, transforming a struggling choir into a “phenomenal performing group”.

It’s a feel-good story with lots of laughs that should resonate with audiences here, members of the Berkeley Institute Drama Programme believe.

Kelsey Roper, 16, plays Sister Mary Roberts, a soft-spoken nun who comes out of her shell with the help of Deloris’s singing lessons.

Having seen the movie years ago, she was familiar with the plot.

“The entire point of the show is just to come out of your character and yeah, preach about God, but you’ll still be able to sing and express yourself and be modest,” said Kelsey, who played Charity in Berkeley’s production of The Greatest Showman last year.

“I just really [liked] the characters and their different personalities and how they formed friendships, especially Mary Roberts, Mary Patrick and Deloris. That's something that really intrigued me.”

Sister Act: The Musical is a student effort, drawing on about 20 pupils in the school’s drama and art and technical studies programmes to be responsible for stage management, lighting, audio, acting and singing.

“The arts are a necessary part of education. They round out a student, having a creative outlet, while developing necessary skills like team work, public speaking, and developing self-confidence they embody for life,” said Joelle Williams, the school’s drama teacher and director of Sister Act: The Musical.

“It has happened through previous school productions, where students join the play, discover different talents, and gain a different perspective of self-awareness, which in turn helps them to become better students, looking at their future in a different light. It’s exciting to see.”

Sister Act: The Musical opens at The Berkeley Institute at 6.30pm tonight at The Berkeley Institute and continues on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 4pm. Tickets, $25, are available at gpass.bm (Photograph supplied)

Mikale Willis, who plays Deloris’s boyfriend, was drawn in by the plot.

Sister Act is about a Las Vegas-style dancer and singer who witnesses a chaotic event and, for her safety, she hides in a convent and just tries to make a new life for herself in this new way of living that she's in and she builds a lot of friendships and relationships on the way,” he said.

Grand opening: Sister Act – The Musical opens at The Berkeley Institute tonight with Ja’Leiyah Johnston as Deloris Van Carter aka Sister Mary Clarence, right, and Callahj Simons as Mother Superior (Photograph supplied)

The S3 student who, like Kelsey, was part of the cast of The Greatest Showman, said he relished the chance to play a "villain" this time around and enjoyed showing the ropes to people who were new to acting.

“The role appealed to me,” he said. “We have a very diverse cast this year and for a lot of our male cast members it’s their first time on stage.”

Elias Baia plays Monsignor O’Hara, the convent’s “spiritual leader”.

“He isn't exactly what you'd expect him to be,” the S3 student said. “Typically when you think of nuns and you think of convents you think of priests, you tend to think things that are the most religious. And essentially, while I start off like that, my character develops.

“As Kelsey mentioned, everyone kind of comes out of their shell in the show. It shows that you can be who you want to be, you can express yourself even while being modest. And I feel like that's kind of what my character does. He is very dynamic in that regard.”

Hail Holy Queen: Sister Act – The Musical opens at The Berkeley Institute tonight (Photograph supplied)

Sister Act: The Musical is a first for the 16-year-old. He was invited to audition after he delivered a speech at a prize-giving ceremony in “a full British accent, all the mannerisms and everything”.

“I wrote out a speech and on the night of, one of my friends on stage dared me to do the speech in a British accent. So I was like, ‘Sure thing. What's the worst that can happen?’

“Everyone was shocked, they were laughing and I guess that’s what Ms Williams, the drama teacher, saw in me. She saw it was an aspect of acting, playing a character who I wasn't.”

Support team: Sister Act: The Musical opens at The Berkeley Institute tonight (Photograph supplied)

Although he’d never considered himself “a drama kid”, at the teacher’s request Elias agreed to join the programme.

“I thought maybe I could act, but I wasn't sure. I didn't really want to go out there and find out, out of fear of being embarrassed if I messed up.”

Having passed that point he’s looking forward to sharing what he can do on stage with audiences.

“I guess there's a few reasons that you should come out and see the show: if you're a fan of a good time, then that's your first reason.

“But if you appreciate acting – if you appreciate drama, a good story, music and some pretty good jokes, I'd say it's absolutely worth your time to come out and see it and not only to appreciate what the students and teachers have put their time into, but kind of to appreciate an art form that I feel like needs more representation in Bermuda.”

• Sister Act: The Musical begins at 6.30pm tonight at The Berkeley Institute and continues on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 4pm. Tickets, $25, are available at gpass.bm

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Published April 25, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 26, 2024 at 8:06 am)

Berkeley takes on Sister Act

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