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Conversion is occurring in New Sharon this weekend as students from North Mahaska High School prepare to stage “Sister Act, Jr.” The show will be performed in the school auditorium, 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. March 17-18.

“Sister Act” musical is based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and written by Joseph Howard. The show has music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. The storyline has Deloris, played by Jalayna Shipley, who witnessed a murder and has been placed in a convent as a nun for her protection. The showgirl is not the typical nun and her influence changes the convent and the church.

Tara Carrico is the director of the show and said she works to match the show with her talent pool.

“Each musical year, I look at who I have for leads and the style of their voices,” said Carrico. “As I looked at the music for this show, I could envision some of my leads in those roles. I also look at the ratio of boys to girls and I knew that I needed a cast that had a large group of females.”

Thugs Trace Goemaat, standing, and from left Brayden Vieseth, Carter Lake, Nate Sampson and Jack Kelderman locate Deloris, the showgirl who witnessed a murder. The scene is from North Mahaska’s production of Sister Act Jr,, which opens this weekend.

Trace Goemaat plays Curt Jackson, the bad guy, along with his loveable thugs Jack Kelderman, Brayden Veiseth, Carter Lake, Lucas Nunnikhoven, Nate Sampson and Ben Johannes.

Convent members include Amelia Dahm-Mother Superior, Lane Harmon-Monsignor O’Hara, Hannah Wernli- Sister Mary Robert, Lucy Gipple – Sister Mary Patrick, Vanessa Murphy – Sister Mary Lazarus, Lane Harmon – Monsignor O’Hara, Madi Hol – Sister Mary Theresa, Daisalyn Duke – Sister Mary Stephen, Ashlyn Kirk – Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours, Emmerson Jedlicka – Nun 1, Amber Knockel – Nun 2, Aly Steil – Nun 3 and Bryant Playle – Pope Paul VI.

Carrico said auditions were held in December and solo work began in January. Large group rehearsals began in earnest shortly after. Carrico has about 20 percent of the high school student body involved in the show in some form. A helpful addition has been Molly Ray’s Stagecraft class, which designed and created the backdrop.

“I have been fortunate that Ms. Ray, our new art teacher, had a class that designed the set,” said Carrico. “They have a class this year called Stagecraft and they have done a fabulous job putting it all together.”

Deloris (Jalayna Shipley), in blue, leads the nuns in song during a rehearsal of Sister Act., Jr. at North Mahaska.

Because many of the students are involved in many of the other activities at North Mahaska, scheduling, weather and scheduled days off has created challenges for the cast.

“The costumes for this show have had to come from a variety of rental companies and that has made that aspect a little difficult,” said Carrico. “Choreography has its unique challenges as well, not because of their nun habits, but this musical has more dancing than years past and that has been a bit of a challenge. I have had to choreograph quite a few numbers and we have definitely had to put in extra work to get them all together. However, the girls are all very helpful and have worked hard outside of rehearsals.”

Carrico said this show is made easier with one set.

“Each year brings its own unique challenges ,and I would say that the amount of dancing has been a bit of a challenge, however, this production is notable in the simplicity of the set, which allows for fewer and shorter transitions between scenes. That takes a lot of pressure off the support staff and makes the production run more smoothly. I haven’t had that luxury in several years.”

Tickets for the show will be available at the door.

Full cast and crew list:
Jalayna Shipley – Deloris Van Cartier
Trace Goemaat – Curtis Jackson
Benjamin Bunn- Eddie Souther
Amelia Dahm – Mother Superior
Hannah Wernli – Sister Mary Robert
Lucy Gipple – Sister Mary Patrick
Vanessa Murphy – Sister Mary Lazarus
Lane Harmon – Monsignor O’Hara
Jack Kelderman – Joey (thug)
Brayden Veiseth – TJ (thug)
Carter Lake – Johnny (thug)
Lucas Nunnikhoven – Pablo (thug)
Nate Sampson – Julio (thug)
Ben Johannes – Smalls (thug)
Carson Doak – Ernie/Broadcaster
Cali Sampson – Tina/Sister Mary Celeste
Breckyn Schilling – Nina/Sister Mary Irene
Maddie Van Utrecht – Elle/Nun
Madi Hol – Sister Mary Theresa
Daisalyn Duke – Sister Mary Stephen
Ashlyn Kirk – Sister Mary Martin-of-Tours
Bryant Playle – Pope Paul VI
Emmerson Jedlicka – Nun 1
Amber Knockel – Nun 2
Aly Steil – Nun 3
Luke Boender – Cop
Extra nuns: Ella Mullins, Cheyanne Mullins, Avary Westercamp, Anna VanRysWyk, Lacey Campbell
Backstage/Curtain: Kei Arthur, Ava Hawk and Ellie Westercamp
Sound: Will Goemaat
Spotlight: Cole Garman