Exclusive Interview: "Sister Act, A Divine Musical Comedy"

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1992 the film world got a taste of a singing nun on the run. It was so popular they made a sequel that was just as well received as the first. Now this was nothing like the flying nun of the 60’s but a young singer who saw something she shouldn’t have and has to hide. What better place than a convent!

Whoopi Goldberg played the courageous, funny, and singing talent Deloris Van Cartier, yes pronounced just like the famous jeweler, in the hit film “Sister Act” and “Sister Act 2”. However, now she is taking a different role, that of producer along with Stage Entertainment, to bring you ‘Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy’.

sister3Prior to their short engagement here in the OC I had a chance to talk to one of their many talented cast members and a home grown stage hero, Dashaun Young. After spending his early youth in Buffalo NY, Dashaun moved to the OC to hone his many talented skills, attending Esperanza HS and graduating from the esteemed Music Theater Department at Cal State Fullerton.

I was honored to have the chance to chat with Dashaun about ‘Sister Act’ and his theater experiences.

What is it like to come home to the OC and Southern California in general, and perform in such a successful Broadway show?

Exciting! This is my first time back to Southern California since 2005 and I am enjoying it. I’ve been in many a show as of late and to finally get back here it is such an exciting feeling seeing friends at the stage door after a performance having just seen you doing something you have worked so hard to do. There is nothing quite like it.

Being as you haven’t been “home” for some time, how do you enjoy being part of a touring show and how does your family support your career choice?

It is a bit of a challenge living out of hotels mostly but when we come to stops where we are here for such a length of a stay, some of us share homes so that we can feel more relaxed. As for the family, they love it. My mom is a strong support of mine from the get go. She knew I had something special to share with the world and has been behind me from the start. Dad on the other hand was hesitant at first and now that he see’s I can make a serious living performing he’s made the 180 and enjoys my passion.

Let’s talk about your passion with the show, ‘Sister Act’, tell me your feelings of doing a show based on a movie?

I’ve been excited about it from the beginning. It is different taking a film and putting it onstage. It ‘s a tough creative process due to people already having a mindset of what they saw on screen and expecting to see it played out on the stage. But that’s where this show takes off, with its subtle changes and original music. The majority of the people I’ve met after seeing the show love the show story line and score with the 70’s music feel. It truly is making those that love the movie love the show just as much.

With such a talented group, what is your favorite number in the show?

After almost a year it’s been fun and tough as cast members are moving on as does happens around this time in a shows life as contracts end and principles leave and new ensemble and principles come in. No matter what happens we all work really well together and gel quickly. But to name one favorite number is tough. If it’s watching the show, which I do a lot being a swing for several principle characters, is ‘The Life I Never Led’. I love the way Lael Van Keuren who plays Sister Mary Robert performs that number, brings me chills. As for numbers I’m in, it would have to be when I cover TJ and sing in ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’. It is just this over the top, off the wall, perfect hence men number.

How do you prepare for such a ‘luck of the draw’ aspect with this show and the characters you play?

At first it is STRESSFUL, but after some time it is second nature. It’s fresh and keeps me on my toes. I have to keep it all in my head at a moment’s notice, especially when you have to be moved from an ensemble track to a principle part in the middle of a show. You just have to keep rehearsing and not rest or get over confident.

Well keeping you on your toes, what is your biggest fear for your first performance in each new venue?

I’ve done many a tour with this show, so, yes I have to keep on my toes. It is one thing you have to do because that fear has to be put to the side and you have to get use to it. Each first performance is always tough as we may have new performers or more importantly stage crew who has to learn a lot of changes in such a short time. You just have to get comfortable with the quick changes fast. But most important, be dressed, ready and have fun. The audience will fuel your performance. If they see you are enjoying yourself performing they will relax and enjoy the show as a whole more.

Let’s step away from the show a bit, what do you do to enjoy yourself in the downtime in new cities?

Currently I am such a gym junkie that I’m working toward my personal trainer certification. I love cooking and hanging out with me fellow cast mates.  Spending time with my dog on tour, when I can have him with me is a great relaxer. I’ve done a lot of tours, this being my third tour so I’ve seen a lot of the country and done the sightseeing stuff. I still like to explore museums and going to any local theme parks with the cast.

What does the future have in store?

Funny you should ask. Not sure at this point. My agent and I were discussing our game plan. Its part of the business but it’s a cool part. I enjoy the auditioning process and it has brought me some great opportunities such as ‘The Lion King’ which I will be going back and covering the part of Simba for a few months and then come back to my cast mates here a ‘Sister Act’. Where else can you have that kind of fun?

Well Dashaun, it has been a pleasure and I wish the best to you and your fellow cast members over the next few weeks as you prepare in other locale’s to bring your show to the OC. To you and your cast, ‘Break a Leg’. I’ll see you on the stage.

It will be a delight to see ‘Sister Act’ when it comes to the OC and see what the many talented individuals who are bringing this show from the silver screen to the stage. From all I have seen and heard about the show it stands alone in story and with the added excitement of new music should be a blast.

See “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts August 6, 2013 – August 18, 2013.

Follow my adventures in entertainment in Southern California on Twitter @SCThrillsMarc.