“Sister Act” is a cunning and manipulative musical, slickly constructed with corporate efficiency so that the laughs come precisely every 90 seconds with cool and detached, Disney-esque efficiency.
The Broadway musical whips into the Broward Center with enough sheen, shine and sparkle to blow the Grinch right outta ya. And the giggle-fest book — practically re-written from the London run by Douglas Carter Beane — is lickety-split quick, so there’s no time for thumb-twiddling.
Save your fingers for snapping to the score by Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Shop of Horrors”) and Glenn Slater (“Tangled,” “The Little Mermaid”), which is one of the brightest surprises of the nun-on-the-run show.
Unlike the movie franchise starring Whoopi Goldberg, who signed on as a producer and sparked the rewrites, the stage musical throws out the Motown retreads for original songs (each ending with a flourish) and moves the action from the 1990s to the disco-fied ’70s.
The plot survived the time travel unchanged. Diva wannabe Deloris Van Cartier, played with her cleavage pushed up to there by a cooing-then-belting Ta’Rea Campbell, witnesses a murder by her nightclub-owning boyfriend. The police hide their witness in a convent, where the mother superior, played by Hollis Resnik, who almost steals the show with her dry quips pitched and timed for maximum effect, resists the breath of fresh air Deloris brings to the nunnery. Supported by a cast of lovable gangsters and sinfully cute nuns, the show is all sugar and hardly any medicine.
Shallow? Possibly. You’ll be standing on your feet, rapturous with joy, before you realize that the take-home is a swift conciliation of humanism and faith … without getting all preachy.
“Sister Act” runs through Dec. 30; 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23); matinees at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (and Wednesday, Dec. 26). Tickets cost $39.50-$79.50 and can be ordered at 954-462-0222 or BrowardCenter.org. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is at 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., in Fort Lauderdale.