Baton Rouge will be the meeting place for Kerrisa Arrington’s family on Sunday.
That’s when the traveling Broadway production of “Sister Act” comes to the River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts, and Arrington isn’t just any cast member in this show.
She’s the cast member.
Arrington plays Deloris, the nightclub singer masquerading as a nun to avoid the wrath of her mobster boyfriend. And while Deloris hides on stage, Arrington will make sure her character’s star shines a little brighter because her family will be driving from Vidalia to Baton Rouge to catch the show that night.
“It’s going to be so exciting for me,” Arrington says.
She spoke from Lincoln, Nebraska, where the cast was scheduled to perform that day. From there, the production will crisscross the country, eventually making its way to Baton Rouge.
“My dad’s side of the family lives in Vidalia, and I used to visit there during the summer,” Arrington says. “So, we’re going to get together after the show. It should be a good reunion for us.”
The tour has been on the road only a month. Arrington was at home in Houston before that finishing up her nursing degree.
She wasn’t a theater major in college. She acted in high school, as well as two college productions, but she majored in psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“After that, I did a lot of regional theater, but I wanted to go to nursing school,” Arrington says. “I was actually auditioned at the time I was finishing school in August.”
Arrington learned of “Sister Act’s” open call audition through a friend. She flew to New York and faced a tough competition of more than 300 actresses for the role.
“This is a dream role for me,” she says. “And I was surprised when they called and told me I’d been chosen.”
“Sister Act” is a musical based on the 1992 film of the same name. Cheri and Bill Steinkiller wrote the book with additional material by Douglas Carter. Alen Menken wrote the music with lyrics by Glenn Slater. The production opened on April 20, 2011, in Broadway Theatre in New York and eventually won five Tonys.
“The musical follows the movie’s storyline, but there are a few differences,” Arrington says.
The setting is Philadelphia, where Deloris is a nightclub singer dating mobster Chris Shank. She believes Shank is going to introduce her to a record producer, and when he doesn’t come through, she decides to break up with him.
That’s when Deloris witnesses her boyfriend murder a man. She runs to the police, who hide her among an order of nuns.
Whoopi Goldberg played the title role in the film and is a producer of the Broadway production.
“It’s been intimidating, in a way, to play her role,” Arrington says. “But she’s been very supportive of the musical.”
So, Arrington puts her own spin on Deloris, whose feistiness not only stirs up life in the convent but inspires her fellow sisters.
“She’s nothing like me, so it’s been fun to play her,” Arrington says. “It’s always fun to look at the world through someone else’s eyes.”
This is something that comes naturally to Arrington. Her psychology training helps her look into a character’s psyche. She studies who they are and why, which allows her to fill in any empty gaps.
So, she knows Deloris well, and on Sunday, her Vidalia family will know Deloris, too.