Raven-Symone and I once judged a pet costume contest together in Kips Bay, so we go way back. (True story.)
That made me want to catch her in Sister Act even more religiously, so when Paper‘s Mickey Boardman was going to see the show for a third time, I persuaded him to take me in his handbag.
It turns out Raven is fun in the role of Deloris Van Cartier, the singer who’s witnessed a killing and hides out “incog-Negro” in a convent, where she teaches the nuns how to sing and dance.
With her rubber faced expressions and comic timing, Raven is cute as she pretends to be holy. (“Our father, who art in heaven/Howard be thy name.”)
And she’s so Raven–and jazzy–as her show biz coaching starts clicking against all odds. (“I’m puttin’ people in the pews!”)
Patina Miller gave the role more of an edge, but Raven has the voice and the appeal, and she looks great in her final ensemble, not breaking character last night as she gestured for an overanxious audience member to resist taking a photo.
Also in the cast, Carolee Carmello does well as the uptight Mother Superior (“I’ve got celibate nuns out there shaking their buns.”)
Chester Gregory is delightful as Sweaty Eddie, the cop with a crush on Deloris and the chance to cash in on it.
And John Treacy Egan, Demond Green, and Caesar Samayoa score as three thugs singing about the various ways they’d seduce nuns out of their dark gowns.
The show, as before, is a bit mechanical but enjoyable, with a score that’s usually melodic and clever, brimming with ’70s style.
But also as before, it’s hard to believe the Pope would really love the nuns’ numbers as they get more and more absurdly over the top. (“Shake it like you’re Mary Magdalene…”)
Also, a few gay-stereotype jokes went over the crowds’ heads last night, and I was actually glad they did.
But for a pretty good bunch of habits, see Raven-Symone until closing on August 26.
Or go to hell.