Kara Mikula, E. Clayton Cornelious back in habitual roles for CLO season finale ‘Sister Act’

By Sharon Eberson

Pittsburgh CLO completes summer season 2022 with a production first, the uplifting Sister Act, and its filled with faces familiar to local theatergoers.

Pittsburgh natives and Point Park alums E. Clayton Cornelious and Kara Mikula.

It’s a delight to see South Hills native and Point Park University alumnus Kara Mikula return to Pittsburgh in this show, which she was due to play at Paper Mill Playhouse when she became ill and was eventually hospitalized with COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic.

“We had our first day of rehearsal today and it was a blast!,” she said via DM on Aug. 2.

Mikula made a big splash for CLO in 2014 as the lead in the premiere musical Judge Jackie Justice – A New Musical Comedy and toured in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. She and her “dream role” of Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy in the film starring Whoopi Goldberg) finally were united in June, when the postponed musical was resurrected at Paper Mill. 

She will play Sister Mary Patrick again, for CLO, and “I’m thrilled to be back in the habit and in my hometown!,” she said.

Starting Oct. 11, Mikula will star alongside Jim Parsons in A Man of No Importance for Tony-winning director John Doyle, at off-Broadway’s Classic Stage.

As the season draws to a close, you could call 2022 the CLO Summer of E. Clayton Cornelious, the Broadway veteran who has toured as Eddie in Sister Act. The Woodland Hills High and Point Park alum was in residence, most recently completing a sterling performance as Richie in A Chorus Line, a role he understudied while playing Butch in the 2006 Broadway revival. His CLO roles this season include best man George in The Drowsy Chaperone, and he was the standby for Lola in Kinky Boots.

Lara Hayhurst, now a New Yorker, is another native Pittsburgher back in town for the show. Local artists in the cast include Michael Greer, moving a half block from the from the CLO Cabaret’s just completed Puffs to the Benedum Center, Jeff Howell, Christine Laitta, as well as Carnegie Mellon University’s Savannah Lee Birdsong (a standout in CLO’s Kinky Boots), Nick Cortazzo and Mathew Fedorek

Tamyra Gray, who starred in Once on This Island on Broadway and on tour, stars as Deloris, a showgirl hiding from mobsters in a convent. Gray who finished fourth on the first season American Idol in 2002. Anne Tolpegin (Tale of Two Cities, Les Miserables on Broadway) portrays Mother Superior.

Sister Act is directed for Pittsburgh CLO by Ameenah Kaplan and choreographed by Robert Roby.

The musical runs Aug. 9-14 at the Benedum Center. Tickets and details: www.pittsburghclo.org/shows/sister-act.

Categories: Show Previews

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