Both on the stage and behind the scenes, girls are taking the lead and bringing the empowerment message of the winter musical, “Sister Act,” to life.
More than 15 girls have been cast in the show, with leads played by two sophomores, Ella Douglass ’20 and Leia Terrenzi ’20. Backstage, several leadership positions are held by girls, including set designer Ria Naab ’18 and assistant choreographer Tammy Mamlet ’18.
“I think this show really embodies girl power, and who else to work on a girl power musical than young women?” Mamlet said.
“Sister Act” is based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and tells the story of aspiring disco singer Deloris van Cartier, who makes waves after she is placed in a Philadelphia convent as part of a witness protection program.
Douglass, who plays Deloris, said it was meaningful to have the opportunity to play a “strong, black, female lead.” Earning the role as sophomore, she said, could inspire younger students to audition for shows.
“It shows that there are many options for not just upperclassmen, but for other grades,” Douglass said. “As we move on, it (will hopefully encourage younger students) to try out more, seeing that they have the opportunity.”
Terrenzi, in her first year at St. Andrew’s, said she was ecstatic when she learned she was cast as Mother Superior. She said “Sister Act” is the perfect show to encourage girls to try out for musical theater.
“In previous shows (I’ve performed in at other schools), we didn’t have enough guys. Girls needed to dress up as guys, or we couldn’t do this show because there aren’t enough guys,” she said “This show is written for a mostly female cast, and when I saw that, I thought it was great.”
Naab has been on tech crew for eight Upper School shows and was tapped this year to design the show’s set, which includes two levels, arches and a spiral staircase.
“It’s very empowering because I’m the one who gets to try all these new things and I don’t have limits,” Naab said. “Having that kind of power to say what I want and make that happen is very exciting.”
Nabb, who plans to study architecture in college, said her tech crew experience has equipped her with the skills to build 3D models for her designs, giving her an edge when she applies for jobs.
Mamlet, who has previously performed in the winter musicals, choreographed dances for two songs in “Sister Act”: an ensemble number, “Raise Your Voice” and “Lady in the Long Black Dress,” a humorous number featuring the male cast members.
“Being on stage and realizing after the show that you did that is so empowering,” Mamlet said. “Watching the performers on opening night is going to be so unreal because I can say, ‘I created that. That happened in my mind, and now it’s on stage.’”
Director Ritchie Porter said the school has worked to create an environment where students feel safe to take chances and lead. “Sister Act” shows what happens when students feel empowered, he said.
“They’ve made it clear that they want to lead and they’re ready to lead,” Porter said of the girls in the cast and crew. “They are asking, they are requesting. They’re stepping forward and not waiting to be called.”
Mamlet said it’s inspiring to be part of a production that has given girls opportunities to have their voices heard, whether they’re singing on stage or making calls behind the scenes.
“When people see the program, they will realize how many girls are in the cast and behind the scenes,” she said. “This is just another example of how St. Andrew’s gives different people different times to shine.”
Showtimes are Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 24 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at the door: $3 for students/seniors and $7 general admission.