For Heaven’s Sake, Garden City Productions Is Finally Opening Sister Act

The pearly doors are finally opening for “Sister Act” at Garden City Productions.

More than two and a half years after the musical was supposed to hit the stage, it opens at Ridley College’s Mandeville Theater on November 11. The show was one of Niagara Theater’s first and biggest victims of the COVID pandemic, which hit just a week before the show’s opening night in March 2020.

Scenery has been built. The tickets have been sold. “Sister Act” was about to leave.

“There was so much heartache,” recalls director Wendy Leard, who replaces the show’s original director, Brady VanVaerenbergh.

“It was actually shut down three times. In the fall, they hoped to be able to do it, but no. Then last spring, we were all ready to go again. We were about to start rehearsals and we were kicked out again.

“Let’s hope the fourth time is the charm!”

It will be the company’s first full-scale production since the pandemic, and Leard believes cast and audiences are ready to come together. She was cheered on by large crowds at the Firehall Theater in Niagara Falls recently, another company with which she has close ties.

“There’s a good buzz,” she says. “Mirvish, Broadway…everything is up and running again. People are flocking to the theater again.

“I just hope people are ready for it and want to start enjoying live theater again.”

The show will be essentially the same production it was going to be in 2020, with some minor cast changes and a new director.

Based on the 1992 film Whoopi Goldberg, it started out in California and London before heading to Broadway in 2011, where it was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The Garden City production stars Chimeem Amiaka as Deloris Van Cartier and Betsy Tauro as the Mother Superior. Leard is a choreographer as well as a director.

“We are ready to come back,” she said. “They’re ready to do what they’ve been looking forward to for two and a half years.”

“Sister Act” is at the Mandeville Theater (2 Ridley Road, St. Catharines) on November 11, 12, 13, 18, 20, 25, 26 and 27. Tickets are $30 adults, $23 students, available at or by phone at 905-682-1353.

Marjorie N. McClure