Rachelle Walljasper, Kay Francis, Bonnie Spainhower, Antoinette Holman, Kristin Gilbert

Rachelle Walljasper, Kay Francis, Bonnie Spainhower, Antoinette Holman, Kristin Gilbert

Heavenly humor and music is going to be shining down on the congregation of Circa ’21 Dinner Theater this summer as the Rock Island venue opens up its pearly gates to “Sister Act.”
The Broadway musical-comedy smash hit opens May 6 and runs through July 2. Based on 1992’s wildly popular film comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg, and nominated for five 2011 Tony Awards including  Best Musical, this hilarious, endearing, and high-energy production will have you riding a wave of pure musical-comedy exhilaration, and is being brought to life by a magnificent cast of professional talents.

“Sister Act” will be performed at Circa ’21 on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturdays evenings at 7:45 p.m., Sundays at 5:45 p.m., and Wednesday matinées at 1:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $50.16 for the evening dinner-and-show productions and $44.41 for the plated-lunch matinées, with student tickets (18 and under) available for $29.26.

Reservations are available through the Circa ’21 ticket office. For reservations, contact the theatre at 1828 Third Avenue, Rock Island or by calling (309)786-7733 extension 2. Online reservations may also be made by visiting www.Circa21.com and clicking on “order tickets now.”

For those who haven’t seen the film or the show or somehow heard about this through the Whoopi Goldberg grapevine (oh that Whoopi! So many rumors! Saucy!), here’s the dealio on the plotline: When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found: a convent! Disguised as a nun, Deloris finds herself at odds with both the convent’s rigid lifestyle and its uptight Mother Superior. But using her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the choir, Deloris breathes new life into the church and community. In doing so, however, she just might also blow her cover!

Filled with powerful music, terrific dancing, laughs galore, and a truly moving story about a woman discovering her true voice, “Sister Act” ran on Broadway for well over a year after its 2011 debut, and wound up earning five Tony nominations, including nominations for Best Musical, Book of a Musical, and Original Score. Serving as director for Circa ’21’s eagerly awaited presentation is venue veteran Jim Hesselman, whose previous credits include “The Sound of Music,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” with veteran area pianist and educator Ron May music directing the show. Together, Hesselman and May have recruited a sensational cast of professional talents for their latest Circa ’21 endeavor, many of them familiar to fans of the venerated dinner theatre.

Portraying Deloris is Antoinette Holman, a three-year member of Circa ’21’s performing wait staff The Bootleggers, and a frequent area-theatre performer whose local roles have included Dynamite in “Hairspray,” Liz in “High Fidelity,” and Mrs. Muller in “Doubt.” Mother Superior is being played by Autumn O’Ryan, whose lengthy list of Circa ’21 credits includes “Oklahoma!,” “The Full Monty” and “A Wonderful Life.”

Among the additional Circa ’21 veterans appearing in the gig are Erin Churchill (“Route 66”), James Fairchild (“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story”), Kay Francis (“Church Basement Ladies”), Kristin Gilbert (“Legally Blonde”), Andrea Moore (“Grease”), Abby Van Gerpen (“Diary of a Worm, a Spider, & a Fly”), Rachelle Walljasper (“The Dixie Swim Club”) and Tom Walljasper (“Shear Madness”).

Meanwhile, cast members making their Circa ’21 debuts include: Quinn Q. Cason (“Chicago”), Jerica Exum (“Big Fish”), Daniel Fuentes (“Guys & Dolls”), Brandon Godfrey (“The Color Purple”), Molly McGuire (“Cabaret”), Cedric J. Paige (“Monty Python’s Spamalot”), Randy Rhoten (“Rent”), Bonnie Spainhower (“Annie Get Your Gun”), Jamie Unger (“Annie”), and active local-theatre performer John VanDeWoestyne, whose area credits include playing Tevye in Quad City Music Guild’s “Fiddler on the Roof” and Oscar Madison in the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre’s “The Odd Couple.”

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.