- Faith & Family
—Photos courtesy Joan Marcus
Christmas is a time to gather with friends, family and especially children and what better way to enjoy the season than to see the five-time Tony Award nominated musical/comedy Sister Act which in a word is simply divine. Of course we all know the story of Deloris Van Cartier played in the movie by Whoopi Goldberg and how she shacks up with a group of nuns because criminals want to kill her after she has witnessed a crime. But before it’s over, Deloris, played by Ta’rea Campbell, has sung her way into the hearts of her fellow nuns forever — and discovered the true meaning of friendship.
In this stage version, the script has been revised and several of the characters have more prominent roles. One of those actors is Kingsley Leggs [yes, that is his given name] — a Broadway veteran who plays Curtis Jackson — the bad guy that wants to kill Deloris.
“We aren’t exactly like the film but then few musicals that come from movies are,” he said. “The play takes a new approach to telling the story and our audiences just love it. It’s rare for an actor to be in a show that makes people feel good. At the end of the night, people are singing along with us, standing up dancing and filled with joy and excitement.”
Leggs, who portrayed the original Mister in The Color Purple, got his start on a St. Louis stage with the city’s Black Repertory Company. He feels blessed to be able to get paid well for something that he loves.
“I’ve been fortunate to work a lot and get pegged for some high profile projects,” he added. “Some of my friends in the business have not been as lucky. But I believe in taking charge of my own plight and destiny too.”
E. Clayton Cornelius, like Leggs, always wanted to be an actor. But then, as the nephew of the legendary Don Cornelius [Soul Train founder and host], he says the performing bug is just part of his legacy.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to go to college to study acting, they both looked at me like I had lost my mind,” he said. “My dad nagged me for years until I got my first part in a Broadway show when I was 21. When he found out how much I was making he never brought it up again. I was singing songs by El DeBarge when I first started acting in high school. Then there was no turning back. Few people get to do what they really want with their lives — I have.”
The play is the thing
Cornelius plays the role of Eddie Souther — a police officer and love interest of Deloris, whom he has known and loved since they were classmates in high school. He’s called Sweaty Eddie because whenever he’s around her, he gets nervous and begins to sweat.
“I’ve been in New York City doing theater for 15 years, been in six Broadway shows with Sister Act this marks my eighth national tour — Eddie has to be one of my favorite roles,” he said. “Most musicals don’t make the mark but the play Sister Act is just as good if not better than the original film. We have an amazing cast and there is a lot more singing and dancing than there was in the movie. I even have a scene where I do this John Travolta thing. You just have to see it. And each night the show seems to just get better and better.”
Sister Act runs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale now through Dec. 30th. Go to www.browardcenter.org for more information.
By D. Kevin McNeir