Students sewing up work on ‘Sister Act’

PHOTO SUMITTED Kyrsten Lilly, costume shop foreman, works in the costume shop, sewing costumes for the upcoming production of “Sister Act.”

Guest artist Mary Nickson of New York is taking on the lead role of Deloris during Heidelberg University Theatre’s production of “Sister Act.”

The Heidelberg University Theatre is to conclude its season with the production, to be staged at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday in Gundlach Theatre.

Tickets can be reserved by visiting www.gundlach

Based on the hit 1992 film, “Sister Act” features original music by Tony-winner and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken.

The story follows Deloris, who witnesses a murder and is put into protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with the rigid lifestyle and uptight Mother Superior. Using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris finds her calling and breathes new life into the dusty convent while discovering a sisterhood she’s never experienced.

Heidelberg senior biology and psychology major Kyrsten Lilly is playing the role of Sister Mary Theresa. She also is the costume shop foreman. The production has an ensemble of 45 nuns, who have learned to sew their nun habits by hand. Students learned to take on their own costume alterations from previous guest artist, Nikki Delhomme from the Yale School of Drama.

“This is going to be a great show,” Lilly said.

Lilly said the students also have had to sew their own glitter overlays due to lack of the costuming from the previous company to host the show.

Lilly said she learned to sew by hand from her mother and had designed her own costumes outside of school.

With this production, Lilly said there are many “quick changes” cast members must do and they have to stay organized backstage. They do this, she said, by making sure all the costumes are tagged with the cast member’s name.

“A lot of it is done by practice and timing,” Lilly said.

Lilly said she enjoys sewing by hand and feels very rewarded when she sees the finished product, “all from a little needle and thread.”

“This is going to be a dance-heavy show,” Lilly said. “It is more intense and has taken more work than our other productions.”

Cast & crew

“Sister Act” is under the direction of Stephen Svoboda, with choreography by guest choreographer LaRon Grant of Chicago and David Cotter as music director and production designer.

Other cast members include Savannah Overly (Mother Superior), Lo Jackson (Sister Mary Robert), Madison Swyers (Sister Mary Patrick), Amy Berger (Sister Mary Lazarus), Joe Boehler (Monsignor O’Hara), Austin Buckhalter (Curtis), Sam Stohlman (Eddie), Gavin Hubbard (Joey), Mark Soski (TJ), Logan Kittaka (Pablo), Hollie Dunn (Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours), Kenzie James (Tina), Connor Ware (Ernie/cab driver), Joel Broadman (cop/pool player), Caira Goldstein (hooker/waitress) and Rebecca Helt (hooker), Sandy Kimmel (bar patron), Ethan Miller (drag queen) and Kaylea Bowers (newscaster).

Nuns are played by Dunn, Cadence Yocum, Helt, Beth Koop, Courtney Berkheimer, Demetra Williamson, Kaitlynn Esquibel, Candra Gorek, Madison Flory, Halli Grunder, Katlyn Campbell, Goldstein, Kimmel, James, Kamari Ward, Bowers and Erikka Breidenbach.

Homeless people are played by Ware, Joel Boardman, Will Sweeney, Helt, Berkheimer, Goldstein, Bowers, Breidenbach, Kittaka and Ward.

Fantasy dancers are Bowers, Breidenbach, James, Ward, Hubbard, Logan Kitakka, Soski and Ware.

The pit orchestra includes Buckhalter, assistant music director; Madeline Flores, Heather DeJonge and David Cotter, keyboards; Cedric Ebbler, bass; Ted Berger, drums; Boardman, percussion; Ethan Gallant and Gillian Duer, reeds; and Megan Gwirtz and Erika Warnke, trumpets.