New characters, same fun for 'Sister Act'

New characters, same fun for 'Sister Act'

By FRANK O'DONNELL

Valley Breeze Entertainment Writer

PROVIDENCE - Cleveland has "some nice places to eat." That's how Charles Barksdale summed up his experience there, on the road with "Sister Act," a new musical coming to the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Barksdale plays TJ, the nephew of the character who's trying to kill Deloris, the show's main character. "I always wanted to play a goon," says Barksdale

Dolores is the character played by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie on which the musical is based. "It's different from the movie though," says Barksdale.

TJ, for instance, is a new character. "He's a funny, lovable character. You know, for a bad guy."

"Sister Act" follows Deloris Van Cartier, a nightclub performer, into the convent where she'll hide until testifying against her boyfriend who she witnessed shooting another man. While in the convent, disguised as a nun, Deloris turns the convent's choir into an overnight singing sensation.

Barksdale started his theatrical career as a musician. "I went to performing arts high school for orchestra. In college, I went into opera." Somewhere along the line, someone threw him into a musical. "I've been going back and forth between the musical theater stage and the operatic stage."

Barksdale enjoys being on the road. "The worst part is trying to find the internet. Sometimes it's so slow. It takes me 20 minutes just to catch up on Facebook." The good news is, he's been able to use Netflix to catch up on episodes of "Downton Abbey."

And, he occasionally gets to meet up with his brothers from Phi Mu Alpha, "the oldest and largest national fraternal society in America" for musicians. "It's kind of great to meet brothers in other cities. They see my letters, we do secret things, I can't really discuss that," says Barksdale with a laugh.

Barksdale's contract runs through October and the show's appearance in Denver. "They're starting to announce new dates, so it seems like the tour's being extended. Who knows what I'll do?"

When we chatted recently, the papal conclave was about to convene at the Vatican to select the new Pope. I asked about papal references in the show. "The lines in the show about white smoke, talking about the Pope, they've been in the script forever. Now, they're getting 30 seconds worth of applause."

"Sister Act" runs April 9 through 14 at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Visit www.ppacri.org for details and tickets, or call 401-421-ARTS.