Takes the Croswell Stage with instructions straight from Whoopi
In May, Matthew Bowland and his husband visited New York City and were part of the live audience for The View, the mid-morning talk show led by Whoopi Goldberg. Bowland had already been tapped to direct a stage production of Sister Act, so when the audience was invited to ask questions, he took the opportunity to get advice from the star of the 1992 film.
“I told her we were doing the show at the Croswell Opera House, the longest continuously running theater in Michigan, and asked what words of wisdom she had for the cast,” he said.
With Bowland capturing the moment on his phone, Goldberg said Sister Act was meant to give the audience a good time, and to let the actors be hammy and have fun. “The show was good if people left with a smile on their face,” Goldberg said. “Don’t let them leave without a smile on their face.”
A couple of weeks later Bowland played the video for the cast, followed by a screening of the movie. “Some of our cast members who are on the younger side had never seen it,” he said.
The musical follows the plotline of the film— a wanna-be singer hides out in a convent after witnessing a murder— but, set in 1977, the show features a disco-inspired original score by composer Alan Menken. “It’s a perfect fit, and the music really does get stuck in your head,” Bowland said.
The show’s time hop back to the ’70s also accommodates the nearly 20 years that have elapsed since the movie’s release. “Present-day religious sisters don’t wear full habits like they used to,” he said.
Near, far and in between
The show’s Croswell cast includes folks hailing from Bowling Green to Ann Arbor along with other area communities. Bowland also noted the number of roles in the show for women, especially those whose age can make it difficult to find roles.
“A couple of the women playing nuns haven’t been on stage in years,” Bowland said. “With the nun ensemble, and especially with some of the characters being older nuns, it’s a terrific way to feature actresses who haven’t had parts available to them in other musicals.”
In contrast, the actress following in Goldberg’s footsteps, Crystal Lynn of Toledo, is just getting started. “I’m basically a newbie,” she said. “I got into theater in preparation for being an empty nester.”
The (almost) accidental actress
Though she began singing with area bands in 2009, Lynn didn’t start pursuing acting until 2017, and got her first role as the result of an assignment from her acting coach, who wanted students to get experience by auditioning. She ended up with one of the lead roles in Crumbs from the Table of Joy at the Valentine Theater. “And it’s just been straight ahead ever since,” Lynn said.
Straight ahead is the way her character, Deloris van Cartier, operates, too.“She is cathartic for me in that she has this big bold expression, and can come out of her shell in ways that I wish I could in my day-to-day life,” Lynn said.
Fortunately, Lynn gets to channel her inner Deloris at the Croswell, and Bowland is confident audience members will indeed leave with smiles on their faces. “Audiences are really in for a treat when they see her on stage,” Bowland said, “and everyone around her is really bringing the best of themselves to this show.”
$15-$40 | August 9-11 & 15-18
8pm, Thursday and Friday | 2:30pm & 8pm, Saturday
The Croswell Opera House, 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian, MI.
517-264-7469 | croswell.org