Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

'Sister Act - The Musical,' Finding Joy, Oneself Through Music

Nov. 2, 2022 -- Senior Libby Warren never took herself as someone who would be interested in the performing arts, until she was introduced to the Vocal Music Department which “changed everything.” And here she is now, as Mother Superior in Heights High’s musical production of Sister Act. The show, based on the hit 1992 film of the same name, follows the story of a woman hiding in a convent who helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she rediscovers her own.

Tickets are only available online and can be purchased until showtime. 
Senior D’Aryl Snead, who plays Deloris, is excited to play a lead role that also has “comedic relief elements” like Bruce from last year’s Matilda. Libby noticed the similarities between Mother Superior and Miss Honey as well where both are “concerned for others and very feeling…but the stark difference lies within their approach to life and the personality that prevails during interactions with others.” The cast emphasizes the exciting challenge to make sure they present the “true light” of the many diverse characters while also balancing the serious and comedic elements of the story.

Another difference, which was both exciting and challenging for the VMD members, was student leadership having more responsibilities and involvement in the process which included creating and teaching choreography, leading dance rehearsals during class, and providing additional dance practice for students who needed a little extra help.

According to VMD teacher and director, Jesse Lange, a total of “over 200 student actors, singers, instrumentalists and crew members” have come together to prepare for and perform in Heights High's production of this Tony Award winning musical. The show will run from Thursday, November 3 through Sunday, November 6 at the Dina Rees Evans Performing Arts Center in Heights High School.

The lead actors urge the community to come and see this show. “Look forward to the feel-good, comedic content of this musical,” says Libby. “The songs are incredible and will no doubt put a smile on the faces of those watching.”

And this feel-good energy has carried into rehearsals where the students are putting their best foot forward to accomplish the same goal, especially as the VMD has been trying to pick things back up post-Covid. “Being involved with friends, everyone knows when to be serious and have the same love and emotion to make something big happen,” according to Bra’Lon Almeida, who plays Ernie. He believes that the next generation of students deserve the same investment from the community and musical opportunities that he and his peers have had.

Jaylen Rajeswaren, who plays the Pope, said that he knows this when the community comes to not only these shows, but all of the concerts and performances that take place in the schools. “They support those who want to do it in the future.” D’Aryl agrees and emphasizes that the community’s support for the arts helps give students a starting opportunity and that “something simple like a school musical could encourage someone to go on to Broadway.”

Mr. Lange chose this contemporary production with the hope that it would be engaging to all audiences, dealt with more complex themes in comparison to previous musicals, and as a way to showcase the extraordinary talents of the Class of 2023. With the central message of the show being “acceptance, caring, selflessness, justice, loving thy neighbor as thyself, and finding JOY through music.” He is also excited to have the high school orchestra back in the auditorium and actually on stage this year to perform the full orchestra score. Part of his decision in choosing this musical "so that the Instrumental Music students could have this wonderful performing opportunity as well.”

Like the characters in Sister Act, the members of the cast have grown to be better communicators and leaders and have been encouraged to take the nerve-wracking step forward to participate in something bigger than just themselves. They have found a part of their selves that they have never seen before and learned to change their mindset to achieve greater goals. “Don’t stand for the clap you are getting now,” D’Aryl emphasizes. “Look towards the applause in the future.”

Sister Act - The Musical will be performed Thursday, November 3 through Saturday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, November 6 at 4:00 p.m.

The lead roles of the show:

Deloris (Sister Mary Clarence): D’Aryl Snead
Mother Superior: Libby Warren
Sister Mary Patrick: Lillian Johnson
Sister Mary Roberts: Liz Francisco
Sister Mary Lazarus: Mira Whitaker-Kanner
Curtis: Patrick Wills
Eddie: Van Terry
TJ: Dametriana Blade
Joey: Hugh Davis
Pablo: Cameron Davis
Monsignor: Maurice Gosselin
Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours: Elle Mueller
Sister Mary Theresa: Ruby Tugeau
Michelle: Ahmya Diggins
Tina: Lee’Asia Peterson
Ernie: Bra’Lon Almeida

nun choir
sister mary roberts solo
cast ensemble finale
Photos taken by Gabe Schaffer.

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