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The Suburbanite
  • ‘Sister Act’ coming to Cleveland



  • Ta'Rea Campbell appeared on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon,” “The Lion King” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” and has the leading role of Deloris Van Cartier in the musical “Sister Act,” whose national tour arrives March 5 in Cleveland.

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  • “I’ve always wanted to be Annie,” Ta’Rea Campbell confessed with a chuckle. “I had the red dress and the album. I would sing ‘The Sun Will Come Out’ in front of the stairway and I would charge 25 cents to get up the stairs because I was giving a concert!”
    While the actress never fulfilled this particular childhood dream, she hasn’t done too badly for herself.
    Campbell appeared on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon,” “The Lion King” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” and has the leading role of Deloris Van Cartier in the musical “Sister Act,” whose national tour arrives March 5 in Cleveland.
    Deloris, played by Whoopi Goldberg in the hit 1992 film, is a nightclub singer who aspires to be a major diva.
    “She’s a little fabulous and she wants to be big fabulous,” Campbell said. “She says, ‘You gotta fake it till you make it.’”
    WITNESS-PROTECTION NUN
    After witnessing a mob murder, Deloris is placed in protective custody in a place where no one would look for her — a convent.
    “It’s a really great role,” Campbell said. Surrounded by nuns, “Deloris has a transformation, and every actor loves a character with an arc. I get to be funny, and sing and dance in these great numbers. The part really does have some meat to it.”
    The Broadway musical version of “Sister Act” follows the plot of the original movie, but with all-new music by composer Alan Menken, whose credits include “Newsies,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Enchanted” and virtually every animated Disney musical (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” etc.).
    “The music is ’70s-inspired disco and funk with horns, really good music to dance to,” Campbell said. “But there’s also standard musical-theater type songs that help tell the story. The mixture is what makes it fun.”
    Her favorite number in “Sister Act,” she said, “is ‘Raise Your Voice,’ where Deloris comes to the convent and tries to have the nuns find their voice and let loose. It’s very high-energy.”
    STANDING OVATIONS NIGHTLY
    Asked about landing such a choice role as Deloris, Campbell said, “I auditioned just like any other actor in New York, then they called me and told me I got it. It was a great day!”
    From the sound of things, “Sister Act” is a major crowd pleaser. “There’s not a night where the audience is not standing up on their feet at the end of the show,” Campbell said. The response is especially strong “in cities where there are a lot of churches or they’re just religious in general, like in the South.”
    Interestingly for such a successful musical-comedy player, Campbell, a Philadelphia native, “never wanted to be a singer,” she said. “I grew up singing in my church, I started when I was 5,  but I always wanted to be an actor. I guess I didn’t think the two would mix for me. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “Sister Act,” incidentally, will be Campbell’s third visit to Cleveland, where she previously performed with touring companies of “Aida” and “The Lion King.” She described her five years with “Lion King” as “thrilling.”
    “It’s such an iconic show, and for a lot of people, their first Broadway show.”