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Patina Miller, star of ‘Sister Act: The Musical’, has announced that she will be leaving her lead role as lounge-singer-turned-nun Deloris Van Cartier on March 18, after more than three years with the production.
Based on the hit 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, ‘Sister Act: The Musical’ opened on London’s West End stage in 2009 with Patina Miller playing the lead role of Deloris who, after witnessing a murder committed by her gangster boyfriend, goes into hiding at a local convent, assumes a false identity under the name of Sister Mary Clarence, and inadvertently becomes the leader of the convent’s tone-deaf choir, who she transforms into a cultural sensation, despite butting heads with Mother Superior, played in the original film by Maggie Smith.
Miller’s stage performance drew rave reviews, earning her a 2010 Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. The musical was so popular among London theatre-goers that it even lured Whoopi Goldberg, who serves as one of the show’s producers, into appearing for a brief run as Mother Superior.
During her run in the summer of 2010, she told reporters that she was too old to take on the main role of Deloris again and that the role was in good hands with Miller. Goldberg returned to the show in October, shortly before it drew to a close in October 2010 after an 18 month run.
Shortly after closing in London, the producers announced that they would be taking the show to New York’s Broadway stage – and that Patina Miller would be coming with them. With a new supporting cast and a slightly revised plot and songbook, the musical re-opened at the Broadway Theatre on April 20, 2011 to positive reviews and further recognition for Miller as she won a Theatre World Award and picked up her first Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in the Musical.
During a promotional trek for the musical’s Broadway debut, Miller admitted that the schedule which came with playing Deloris was incredibly intense and that she had led very little in the way of a social life while in London. Nevertheless, Miller forged ahead with the role and spoke of her joy at being able to originate a role on Broadway at such a young age (Miller is 27).
She also saw her Twitter following grow to over 4,500 followers as the New York theatre community took to her with ease, and as she gained a reputation for being eager to use the social media platform to engage with both passionate new fans in New York and loyal old fans back in London.
However, after less than 12 months on Broadway, Miller has announced that she will be leaving ‘Sister Act: The Musical’, to be replaced by former Disney star Raven-Symoné. This will mark the first major stage role for Symoné, who has enjoyed a long-running acting career, but Goldberg and fellow producers are hoping that the musical will continue to thrive without Miller’s impeccable presence and, more importantly, her soaring voice.
There is still a while to go before anyone will know if Symoné is indeed the right replacement, with Miller due to deliver approximately twenty further performances before she hangs up her habit for good, at which point all Broadway eyes will be fixated on Miller as she strives to prove that she has what it takes to succeed without the security of her ‘Sister Act’ family. One thing is for certain: Miller will not be forgotten quickly. As she sings in the musical’s seminal song:
All that glitz and glamour / they’re all right no doubt.
But what are you left with / when the lights go out?
I’ll have my sisters with me still / I’ll have my sisters, always will.
And with my sisters’ love / no star above will shine as bright as me.
And as a sister and a friend / I’ll be a sister ’til the end,
and no one on this earth can / change that fact -
I’m part of one terrific sister act.