Students and faculty of Wanda L. Bass School of Music are preparing to produce the opening show and first mainstage of their 66th season.
Based on the 1992 film of the same name, the musical Sister Act centers around an aspiring night club singer, “Deloris Van Cartier.” She finds herself wrapped up as a witness in a murder trial, and, after running to the police, is placed in a convent for safekeeping.
“Deloris” will be portrayed by Ashley Arnold and Ashleigh Robinson, music theater juniors. Both women said it is exciting, though overwhelming, to be the leading role.
“I feel like it hasn’t hit me yet,” Arnold said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s still so much fun. It’s crazy.”
Robinson said the rehearsal process is challenging but rewarding.
“They really make sure we aren’t wasting any time getting into the material,” she said. “That’s hard because everyone is still trying to get into the swing of things for the semester, but you’re in rehearsal for up to 22 hours a week right off the bat. But the music in the show is all funky party music, so rehearsals are a complete blast.”
Both actresses said, even though the rehearsal process has been rushed, they haven’t procrastinated on the amount of character research that it takes to form their role.
“Deloris really does go through a journey,” Arnold said. “I try to come from the approach of wanting to pursue something so badly in your life that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to attain that dream.”
Robinson has a different point of view.
“My take on Deloris is centered around love,” she said. “At the beginning of the show, she is completely in love with herself and an idea of the life she wants. By the end of the show, she realizes that life has no meaning without others to share love with.”
Sister Act is directed by Dr. David Herendeen, director of the opera and music theater program. He said the production has an enormous amount of preparation.
“Our team actually started working on this back in April. There’s a whole lot of thoughtful coordination that’s required between the creative entities,” Herendeen said.
Herendeen also said Sister Act was chosen for a mainstage due to the diverse cast.
“We have a very diverse student performing demographic, and I’m very proud of that,” he said. “Oklahoma has a little bit of a stigma nationally, and our programs here at OCU are better than the stereotype that people throw at us. This musical declares diversity.”
Herendeen said it’s important for the student performers to understand the goal of the show.
“When we get everything done and start building the show, I remind them that they’re ultimately teaching,” he said. “I’m constantly reminding them what lesson the particular scene can teach the viewer. Performing has always been a very powerful teaching tool.”
Sister Act will be performed at 8 p.m. Sept. 29-30 and 3 p.m. Oct. 1 in Kirkpatrick Auditorium in Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center. Ticket prices range from $14 to $28. To purchase tickets, visit the ticket office in Edith Kinney Gaylord Center, call (405) 208-5227 or visit the box office tab on okcu.edu.