‘Sister Act’ giveaway winner Pepper Delano-Doty (and son Trevor) get the star treatment, minus one certain nun

I‘ve been on the quiet side for the past 10 days or so, and for good reason. (More on that in a moment.) First, I want to acknowledge the big winner in TMR’s “Sister Act” Giveaway. If you recall, one lucky member won dinner for two plus a pair of tickets to the Good Company Players production on Thursday, Aug. 11. Included in the prize package was a chance to meet star Camille Gaston after the show. Congrats to winner Pepper Delano-Doty. She and her son, Trevor Doty, had a great time.

Pictured above: At top, Pepper Delano-Doty meets Camille Gaston for a post-show tour. Below, Delano-Doty with her son, Trevor Doty.

One thing that Pepper did not receive was a chance to see me dressed as a nun for a brief cameo in the show (as promised in the giveaway). You probably guessed the reason: Since Monday, I’ve been isolating with a case of Covid-19. You know the drill. I can’t believe I made it this long before getting sick.

All of this messed up my planned “Sister Act” coverage; I was planning to do a sort of combo first-person account of being in the show along with some of my thoughts on the show. (I never wrote an official review because I knew I was going to join the cast on stage.) But I do want to acknowledge some high points:

1. Camille deserves sainthood. (With a papal dispensation for going out and having fun.) What can I say? She owns this role in Fresno. From her streetwise sass as Deloris when the show begins to the scrappy bond she forges with her fellow nuns in the convent, Gaston is funny, emotional, silly and inspirational. If you’re grading on a heavenly scale, she’s ten rosaries out of ten.

2. The villains are be-ad-ifyingly good. (See what I did there?) We’ve seen Terry Lewis in many, many forms, but one of the funniest is in this show as Curtis, a two-bit crime boss. His song “When I Find My Baby” is terrific. And his henchmen shine as well: the dim and amiable TJ (Jeremy Marks), the peppy Pablo (Jacob Cozzi), the doltish Joey (Mike Buckman), and the scary hairpiece worn by Mike Buckman (which looks like three-day-old roadkill). Fun stuff.


3. Sweaty Daniel. As the endearing Eddie Souther, the cop responsible for Deloris’ safety, Daniel Hernandez is perfectly cast. His big second-act number is a hoot.

4. The nuns. They’ve got the sisterhood thing down. Led by a rousing Mother Superior (Lorna Leslie), the show’s gaggle of nuns is in top form.  Plus, several of them were understudies. In fact, on the night I saw the show, there were six understudies filling in for various sick and missing cast members, including Michelle Olson, who stepped in for the pivotal role of Sister Mary Patrick. I was impressed with how smoothly Olson and her fellow understudies (Kaitlin Dean, Lex Martin, Andy Turner, Christine Clark and Peter Hartley) assumed their roles. This isn’t just a case of memorizing lines of dialogue. It’s having to sing different parts and shift positions in the dance numbers. (And with lots of rippled moves in the choreography, it’s harder to do that than you might expect.)

5. Say your Hail Lauries. As director, Laurie Pessano is key. She has corralled this show through Covid bumps and made it seamless, even when cast members were missing. (She also did the clever choreography — the “Take Me to Heaven” reprise is my favorite.) You know a show is quality when you see it on a potentially rough night and it still does the trick.

A reminder: “Sister Act” runs through Sept. 11 at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre.

As for my own nun-in-the-sun moment, I’ll have to renegotiate my contract, now that I’ve been disinfected, Paxlovid-ed and released from quarantine. I’ll brush up on my martyrs and get my habit dry-cleaned. More details to come!

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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