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A summer on stage

U of M students, alumni in spotlight for Rainbow Stage's Sister Act.

August 11, 2015 — 

For some students, summer break means relaxing, taking a vacation or catching up with old friends.

For vocal performance student Colleen Furlan, it has been all about lending her summer to Rainbow Stage.

Desautels Faculty of Music student Colleen Furlan as Sister Mary Robert in Rainbow Stage's Sister Act.

Desautels Faculty of Music student Colleen Furlan as Sister Mary Robert in Rainbow Stage’s Sister Act. Photo credit: Chris Reid

Furlan is entering her final year at the Desautels Faculty of Music this fall. While she was finishing up her July run as Cosette in Les Miserables, she was already rehearsing for her next show: Sister Act (playing August 13-September 1 at Kildonan Park).

“It’s definitely a lot of work rehearsing for one show and performing in the other at the same time,” said Furlan. “But it’s what I like to do and I enjoy every minute of it!”

Sister Act, starring Whoopi Goldberg, became a box office hit in 1992.

Furlan’s first time seeing Sister Act wasn’t on screen. It was on the stage.

“During my time as a contestant on CBC’s Over The Rainbow, the producers gave us tickets to see the touring Sister Act show in Toronto. Prior to this, I had never seen the story.”

When Furlan learned of Rainbow Stage performing Sister Act, she began studying the characters, watching the movie and learning the songs.

Her hard work paid off: It landed her the role of Sister Mary Robert.

“Sister Mary Robert is a quiet, meek woman,” said Furlan. “She doesn’t like a lot of attention put on her, and she doesn’t know anything about life outside the convent until Sister Deloris comes in.”

The show features a cast of upbeat nuns who, by the show’s finale, learn how to dance, clap and sing with joy.

One of the nuns in the ensemble is University of Manitoba alumna, Paula Potosky.

Potosky is no stranger to Rainbow Stage. She performed last month as Fantine in Les Miserables and starred as the title character in Mary Poppins in 2013, among other appearances.

Potosky says being in the ensemble can bring just as many challenges to the stage as having a principle role.

“Playing in the ensemble requires multiple costume changes and being quick on your feet to be in the right place at the right time,” said Potosky.

At times, actors leave the stage if only for a few moments and change into a completely different wardrobe.

“It can definitely bring you physical fatigue but I’m living a dream and am doing what I love to do on stage,” said Potosky. “I left a career in school teaching to pursue a career on stage. It has been a fun adventure!”

Potosky graduated from the U of M in 2004 with her Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Music. She credits her time on campus for getting her to where she is today.

“The U of M’s musical theatre and vocal training was amazing,” said Potosky. “Working two shows back to back over the summer requires you to use your voice night after night. Classes at the university taught me how to sustain my voice for long periods of time, and make sure I sing in a healthy manner.”

There are more connections to the U of M in Sister Act:

Donna Fletcher [B.Mus(Perf)/89] is playing Mother Superior.
Joanne Parker Gibson [BEd/74, CertEd/68, BPE/67] is playing Mary Theresa.
Ross McMillan [MA/92, BA/96] plays Monsignor.
David Fox, who trained out of the Black Hole Theatre Company, plays TJ.
Aaron Hutton BMus(Perf)/11 and Brenda Gorlick (guest professor at the U of M) are in the ensemble.

For Sister Act ticket information and show times, click here.

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