With Slater, he also came up with a few twists on that formula, notably in “When I Find My Baby.”
“For me there always should be a moment for the audience of ‘Oh, I get it!’ ” Menken says with a laugh. “Curtis is singing a song that’s a kind of hearts-and-flowers kinda love song, but it’s about ‘how I wanna dismember the girl because she’s turned against me.’ ”
In fact, Menken says, pure disco is a relatively small part of the show’s score. As a working pianist and beginning composer in New York in the ’70s, he had to get to know the new sounds, but he wasn’t going out to discos except for the occasional professional obligation, much less hanging at Studio 54. Unsurprisingly, then, his “Sister Act” compositions run the musical gamut of that decade. “It’s got all those ’70s styles,” he says, “from disco to funk to psychedelic soul to the smooth jazz, where I think of Lou Rawls, and there’s traditional musical theater as well.”
The newest Deloris seems to welcome the variety.
“It’s such fun to sing, I’m having a blast,” says Campbell. “It’s really easy to just fall right into that groove.”
Joel Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.