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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 2:13 am | Fair 41º


Avery Sorenson: Santa Barbara Writers Score with Broadway’s ‘Sister Act’

The must-see musical is divine, and another show by Cheri Steinkellner will be back in California this winter

This summer I went on a fantastic trip to New York City. There, my family and I saw the new Broadway musical Sister Act, which opened in March.

Avery and Kyelee Sorenson put on their own 'sister act' before the Broadway show.
Avery and Kyelee Sorenson put on their own “sister act” before the Broadway show. (Sorenson family photo)

When I got to the show I had no idea what to expect, but afterward I was totally amazed. Sister Act is a great show for all ages, and there are definitely many laughs, amazing music and everything that a great Broadway show should have.

After I came home I had the opportunity to interview Santa Barbara resident Cheri Steinkellner, who co-wrote the show with her husband, Bill. They were writers for the hit TV sitcom Cheers and the show Teacher’s Pet. They have won two Emmy Awards as well as three nominations.

Steinkellner explained to me what an amazing opportunity it has been for her and how much fun the whole process of Sister Act has been. The show was shown in Pasadena, Atlanta, London and Homburg, Germany, before it came to Broadway. That took six years to do.

Any of you who know the process of writing a musical may know that it takes a lot of dedicated, hard work. Steinkellner said that writing the script is not as easy as it seems, and that the script is always changing.

“It started out just by writing the script as if it was a play, but at certain points where we felt there should be a song, we would write, ‘Here will go a song that will do this’ ... and of course, it changes,” she said. “It does change over time.”

I just loved watching Sister Act. The musical comedy is one of my favorite shows now! The laughs and smiles that are spread during this production just wowed me.

Steinkellner reflected on one of her favorite parts of Sister Act: “Sitting together with Billy and coming up with jokes and making ourselves laugh ... and then seeing that opening night in London the first night of previews saying, ‘Oh, there are 2,000 people across the ocean all laughing at the same things we thought of in our dining room in Montecito.’ That was fun!

“I think for us the most fun part is the dreaming stage, the imagining what it is going to be and writing it exactly like it goes in your head. When Billy and Alan Menken (composer) and Glenn Slater (lyricist) and I were at Alan’s house in Upstate New York and anything was possible was the most fun part.”

Sister Act has been a blast, but keep an eye out for Steinkellner’s next musical, Hello My Baby, which has shown at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. It’s part of a festival in Washington state and plays at the Goodspeed Opera House on the East Coast this fall. In the winter, Hello My Baby will be coming back to California.

This show has songs from the Great American Songbook that have recently fallen into the public domain. These particular songs were written by many famous composers before 1923.

Hello My Baby is about teenage song pluggers who sold music on the streets of New York City (by singing songs) 100 years ago. There is a girl who wants to be a plugger, too, so she dresses up as a boy to go sing with them, but it turns into a complicated love triangle. Hello My Baby sounds like a great show, and you may be hearing more about it soon.

Sister Act has been such a great show to watch, and I enjoyed talking with Steinkellner about her experience. If you’re planning a trip to New York, you should see this show. It’s a must-see. Click here for more information.

— Avery Sorenson, 13, is a Youth Spotlight writer and fourth-year camper at Stage Left Productions.

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