/Former Miss Mississippi ‘finds her voice’ in New Stage’s Sister Act

Former Miss Mississippi ‘finds her voice’ in New Stage’s Sister Act

In the musical adaptation of Whoopi Goldberg’s 1992 movie, Deloris is placed in a convent by plot circumstances. Myles was Miss Mississippi 2007, Miss America semi-finalist and now on the regional theatre stage. He also appeared in front of college students. It’s a matter of personal and professional reconciliation. Myles says, “I can relate so much to this story because as a child, I had a dream of becoming a star.” “But, I learned later in my life that there were more important things to be than having that. The musical comedy is presented by New Stage Theatre through June 17. It will be on display for an additional week after the original run was sold out. Myles is originally from Taylor. She grew up singing at Second Baptist Church in Oxford, and then studying music. Although she was born with severe hearing impairment, her parents encouraged her to participate in the pageant. Myles states that her parents wanted to help boost my confidence and get me used to being on stage. “They kept me in musicals and theatre things after the last surgery to keep me interested in it and keep me disciplined. It’s truly a God thing. It’s the best description I have. Her reign as Miss Mississippi — “That will make a woman of you, that’s sure” — required constant travel and public speaking. It was an amazing year. Scholarship money was also “incredible” and was used to further her education. Myles completed her Master of Fine Arts in Acting at the University of Southern Mississippi. She has also performed in Paris, London and Scotland. Tougaloo College is where she teaches creative writing and theater. Vershaune Stamps, a student of hers, was also featured in “Sister Act” and was named Teacher of the Year by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Myles is married Yohance Myles, an actor from TV’s “Queen Sugar,” and “Shots Fired”, as well as a veteran of New Stage. They have two children, ages 2 1/2 years and 11 months. She says they are very supportive and have no competitive streak. “There are things that I think, “mmm, that’s it, and then there’s moments when I will seek each other out of my lane on those, and then there’s the moment when I’ll keep in my lane on those, that’s “You do you,” and then there’s “Sister Act” where Deloris (Myles), a witness to a crime is taken into a convent for safekeeping by the cops. Although the Mother Superior might be suspicious, Deloris assists her sisters in the convent to find their voices. Deloris also unexpectedly taps into her own reserves. The professional regional theatre’s musical is ambitious. It features 21 actors, 36 musical numbers and costume changes almost as frequently as the comedy. There are 25 scenes, 23 locations and 20 moving parts. It’s hard work but we are having fun, Myles said. Flat-out comedy, nothing-sacred humor, and a lot of laughs push the limits. Ray McFarland, Monsignor O’Hara, says that “but you can’t stop laughing.” It’s an amazing experience when everyone — regardless of race, religion, or gender — can enjoy the jokes that are made… We were all on the floor when we read the play for the first time.” Jessica Wilkinson plays the role of Mother Superior. Myles was certain when she saw the original London production “Sister Act” with Petina Miller playing Deloris. Her reaction? She responds, “I said, “Damn!” and then draws it into a two-syllable stretch that shocks her castmates. “I was stunned!” “I was blown away!” It’s going to be quite the stir!” She said she was hesitant about auditioning. Peppy (the show’s director), said that he knew she was auditioning and that she finally gave in. “The role Deloris is very difficult to sing.” With lots of high parts and big belting numbers, Biddy said that “and she’s the only Jackson person that can do that.” Biddy had previously directed Myles in “It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues” at New Stage in 2015. Carol Joy Sparkman, the musical director of the show, said that he knew Myles’ work ethic and ability to adapt to new directions. Myles states that songs and scores range from sacred to secular, with ballads, church choir music, R&B, musical theatre, blues, R&B, and rap. She adds that “you feel a little Disney every now and again.” Original music for the show was composed by Tony- and Oscar-winner Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast”, “Little Shop of Horrors”) Myles isn’t the only teacher of the ensemble. McFarland teaches theatre at St. Andrew’s Upper School. Wilkinson is an English teacher and director of the Jackson Prep a cappella chorus. Malaika Quarterman, Sister Mary Lazarus’s character in the musical, was named Jackson Public Schools Teacher-of-the Year for her work at Power Academic & Performing Arts Complex. What’s the lesson? McFarland echoes McFarland’s pastoral passion, “Love one another and share it around.” Wilkinson states that they will learn to not take themselves too seriously. “Life is fun. You can smile at everything.” Myles summarizes the message. “Love conquers all.” “Sister Act” runs at New Stage Theatre from 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. For tickets, $35 adults and $28 seniors/students, visit the theater box office or www.newstagetheatre.com or call 601-948-3531.