LAKE CITY, S.C. — A newcomer to the stage, Felicha Easterling, took the lead role in the Lake City Community Theatre’s rendition of “Sister Act” as Deloris Van Cartier.

Easterling, a worship director at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, had never participated in theater, but when she saw the advertisements for “Sister Act” auditions, she decided to give it a shot.

Easterling said she grew up watching “Sister Act,” the movie, and its sequel and really liked them both.

“I said, ‘Hey, this could be interesting,’ never having any idea that I would be Deloris,” Easterling said.

Getting selected for the part of Deloris was shocking for Easterling.

“I just wanted a part,” Easterling said. “I didn’t necessarily want the lead, but it was like, wow. It was shocking, and then it was a lot of fun.”

The full cast for “Sister Act” began practicing in November and then finished for opening night March 12.

Because of Easterling’s background in music, learning the music for “Sister Act” wasn’t that difficult. The hardest part for Easterling was the time commitment and dedication.

Easterling said the musical made her grow all around as a person.

“It teaches you a lot of patience, and you have to be dedicated and have discipline,” Easterling said. “So, I learned a lot of discipline during this process. You just have to sit down and learn it, and as it gets closer, it gets more strenuous.”

Easterling said she loved rehearsals; they were her favorite part of her entire experience.

During the rehearsals, Easterling said the cast laughed a lot together, and she enjoyed learning the music.

“Everybody was so welcoming and warm, and I didn’t feel left out like I didn’t belong at all at any time,” Easterling said. “They were just like, ‘Hey, we’re family.’”

To get into character, Easterling said she watched both the musical and the movie to get ideas for how to portray Deloris’s mannerisms. For the show, Easterling said she channeled Whoopi Goldberg’s portrayal of Deloris.

Donning a fluffy red boa and several pairs of standout boots, Easterling took the stage for four shows, and the experience was fun but nerve wracking at first, she said.

“The good think is when the curtains open, you can’t see the crowd,” Easterling said. “That’s the good thing about stage lighting. Where I was when they first opened the curtain, I could not see anything because the bright lights made the whole audience look black.”

By the last night, Easterling was more excited than nervous.

“The beginning is like, ‘Yeah, first night, everybody. Break a leg. I’m nervous, but I’m going to make it,’” Easterling said. “And then by the end, you’re a little tired, exhausted and stressed. … We made it through.”

Easterling said her favorite part of performing was getting to see the joy and expressions in people’s faces during the performance.

Through performing in “Sister Act,” Easterling said she has the utmost respect for professional performers, because it takes a lot to condition oneself to perform constantly.

“I appreciate them giving me the opportunity, and the people are great. Everybody was great,” Easterling said.

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