By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
CHEROKEE, N.C. – The comedic antics of Deloris Van Cartier will come to life this spring in the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center as the Cherokee Central Schools Musical Theatre program presents “Sister Act”. Performances are scheduled for Thursday, May 11 at 7 p.m. and Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.
Valerie Deitz Tissue, Cherokee Central Schools dance and musical theatre director, said they considered several musicals including “Grease” and “Beetlejuice”. “But, in the end, we thought ‘Sister Act’ is one that will really be fun. Last year was a little bit of a more serious piece with ‘Once on This Island’. We thought it would be fun to do something totally out-of-the-box. Who doesn’t want to see a bunch of teenagers in nun costumes? So, we picked ‘Sister Act’!”
“We’ve also picked up a little tap dancing in it. It’s given us the opportunity to do a little bit of that. I never knew how funny some of these people were. The comedic timing in here is really fantastic. I can’t wait to highlight some of that.”
When asked how they choose a production, Tissue noted, “We kind of look at the students that we have now and think ‘where are we at with our capabilities as of this minute if we have to perform it today?’. But, where could we go? Where could we grow over this semester, the year, and kind of go ‘this would push us out of our box, but not to a place that’s unattainable that we’re going to crash and burn’. We want to soar and fly, not crash and burn.”
Kyleigh Sherman, a junior, plays ‘Deloris Van Cartier’. “I have seen the movie a few times. When I first figured out that I was Deloris at first I was like ‘whoa, this is not going to be good for me’. Her character is very conceited, almost, or above and beyond and I’m definitely not above and beyond so it was hard to take that on. But, one thing I keep in mind with Deloris is I have to be sassy 24/7. If that means I’m scared, I’m scared sassy. If I’m mad, I’m mad sassy. Everything has to be attitude the whole time. That’s the first thing when I approach the character is that I have to be sassy the whole time.”
Julius Bolden, a senior, plays ‘Joey’ who he describes as “the player, the ladies man”.
He plans to pursue acting after high school and has an upcoming audition for the New York Conservatory of Arts. Bolden enjoys all aspects of musical theatre noting, “My favorite part is probably my song. I really love singing that song. The name of the song is ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’. I love singing it every time. I love seeing my dancers in the back.”
“I do like the comedy part. I would personally think I have very good comedic timing. I do like the acting. When I found out I got the role, I was like ‘cool’. Then they told me what he was like and I was like ‘oh’.”
Amiya Lequire, a senior who plans to attend Rocky Mountain Art and Design, plays ‘Mother Superior/Michelle’. “She’s kind of this really old-school nun. She’s kind of dull…she’s no-nonsense, doesn’t joke around. She’s no fun…I think my favorite thing about getting to play Mother Superior is getting to play a character that’s more serious instead of fun…getting that experience and having to act all serious all the time, be mad about certain things, it’s fun. It’s a little challenging, but it’s fun.”
“It’s so hard to act like I’m mad and be serious whenever I’m running scenes with them and they do something that’s insanely funny and I have to sit there and not smile. I have to have a straight face. It’s so hard.”
Rachel Maney, a senior who plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, plays ‘Mother Lazarus’ who is the original choir director before she passes it on to Deloris. “She’s the definition of a nun. She slowly warms up and cracks out of her shell thanks to Deloris. The challenging part is having to sort of change my voice to match her personality. She’s not young per-se, she’s a much older nun. She’s been doing this for years and years so I have to find this gravely old voice.”
Tissue is proud of the work the students have put in on this year’s production. “The kids have been great. I love working with this group of kids…it’s really a great group of students that we have in here. I kind of wish every teacher and administrative anybody could get a chance to be in this room when we’re doing what we do because they’re so supportive of each other. They’re so kind and they’re willing to collaborate. It’s just a really great atmosphere to be in…it’s really like a little family – dysfunctional sometimes, but a family.”
She added, “To put on a good show, you have to be willing to trust a director, to trust a teacher. I would say that the kids trust me, and it’s mutual because I trust them with making good decisions, doing the right thing, and trying their best at all times. They do and so it works.”
Tissue said she’s very much looking forward to the shows. “I’m really proud of this group and what they’re doing, what they’ve done, and what they continue to do, and what they’re going to do when they leave this place, too. They’re a great bunch of kids. They’re going to do great things.”
The cast is as follows: Kyleigh Sherman as ‘Deloris Van Cartier’, Jade Squirrel as ‘Tina/Nun’, Jocelyn (JoJo) Saunooke as ‘Nina/Nun’, Adia Frady as ‘Elle/Nun’, Amiya Lequire as ‘Michelle/Nun’, Colby Lossie as ‘Curtis/Altar Boy’, Julius Bolden as ‘Joey/Altar Boy’, Gideon Freeman as ‘TJ/Altar Boy’, Adaneti Durham as ‘Pablo/Altar Boy’, Corbin Freeman as ‘Ernie/Altar Boy’, Nikki Toineeta as ‘Cop/Nun’, Dominyk Arch as ‘Eddie Souther’, Amiya George as ‘Mother Superior’, Tyruss Thompson as ‘Monsignor O’Hara’, Lauren Wooten as ‘Mary Patrick’, Ann Toineeta as ‘Mary Robert’, Rachel Maney as ‘Mother Lazarus’, Autumn Greene as ‘Mary Martin-of-Tours’, Joselyn Long as ‘Mary Celeste’, Noqwisi Crowe as ‘Mary Irene’, Odie Codynah as ‘Mary Stephen’, Timber Sampson as ‘Altar Boy’, Dayvian Pheasant as a ‘Dancer’, Jimya Driver as a ‘Dancer’, and Louisa Walkingstick as a ‘Dancer’.
The backstage/artist crew is as follows: Usgwanigdi (Ush) Akwina, Jaylynn Brady, Victoria (Tori) Cabrera-Davis, Jimya Driver, Kaimare Eaglestar, Jesse (Bella) Hernandez Walkingstick, Isabella (Bella) Jones, Leilah Lossie, Samantha Montemayor-Blythe, Dayvian Pheasant, Treyton Queen, Aaliyah Reed, Sadie Rivera-Gomez, Ayala Ross, Ariyanna-Ali (Ari) Toineeta, Eliana (Ellie) West, Kyra West, Zaina Williams, and Haylie Woodard.