Before her audition for the role of Mother Superior, Maggie Clennon Reberg didn't even know that Sister Act the movie had been made into a Broadway musical.
After learning she'd landed the role in the musical comedy, Reberg said that she "just fell in love with it" and embraced the challenge of playing the stern Mother Superior.
"I really wanted to explore, as an actor, how to show the love and show the humanity in a person who says the most horrible things."
Sister Act is the story of Deloris, a lounge singer who wants to be a disco diva. But after witnessing a murder, Deloris is put in protective custody in a convent and has to pretend to be a nun. While there, she transforms the convent choir.
Sister Act is being brought to Lexington as a part of the Broadway Live series.
The Broadway version of Sister Act shares the plot line with the popular 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie. The songs, though, are all different, said Kerissa Arrington, who plays Deloris.
Composer Alan Menken, known for his Disney music scores, is an expert at composing for the time period of Sister Act, said Reberg.
"The music is all disco, rhythm and blues, and a little bit of gospel."
One of Reberg's favorites is the first song that Mother Superior sings, Here Within These Walls. In this song, Mother Superior tries to explain to Deloris how wonderful the convent is since it is away from the outside, material world, said Reberg.
"It is a good peek inside her. You can see some of the warmth."
"She (Mother Superior) has chosen this line of work because the outside world has not been kind to her," Reberg said. "This made her cynical until this miracle of Deloris."
Mother Superior is easily one of the most transformed characters in the play, Reberg said.
"When we first meet her, she is very rigid. She doesn't mince words or spare anybody's feelings," Reberg said. "Then comes this hurricane of sassiness in Deloris, and it shakes her entire foundation."
Behind stage, Reberg and Arrington are friends. That can make playing the adversary roles difficult, the women said.
"I have a really wonderful friendship with my leading lady, Kerissa Arrington," Reberg said. "It can be challenging because we are so close in person."
Reberg has had experience playing nuns. While performing in The Sound of Music, she has played Mother Abbess, Sister Bertha and Sister Margaretta. She has also played nuns in the operas Dialogues of the Carmelites and Suor Angelica.
"I'm used to the costume, that's for sure," Reberg said.
Reberg likes the role of Mother Superior in Sister Act because she gets to show the audience the woman underneath the habit.
"You really get to see inside her heart," Reberg said.
In the show, Mother Superior and Deloris end up finding friendship through the transformative power of making music. For Reberg, this is the lesson of the musical: No matter their stations, people can find a common bond in music.
"You'd have to work really hard not have a good time," said Reberg about Sister Act. "The finale is irresistible. There has never been a performance where people haven't been standing up and jumping and singing along with us."