Oh Happy Day!
Joining the 61-year-old Oscar winner — who played Deloris Van Cartier, the lounge singer forced to go into hiding in a convent after witnessing a murder — in the celebratory tune were cast members Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena, Sherri Izzard, Darlene Koldenhoven, Beth Fowler, Andrea Robinson and Prudence Holmes.
The film’s music supervisor, Marc Shaiman, sat in on the piano for actress Rose Perenti (Sister Alma), who died in 1996.
It was the first time the cast had reunited since filming the hit movie, which spawned a sequel (1993’s Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit) and a hit Broadway musical.
Prior to the performance, Goldberg, Makkena, Najimy, and Shaiman sat down for a chat — each sharing memories of making the movie (including some pranks they pulled).
Najimy, who also worked with Shaiman in Hocus Pocus, said she stumbled on her character Mary Patrick’s signature “funny opera voice” during her final audition (of six) with Shaiman in Los Angeles. “He said, ‘Do that. Don’t do anything else.’ And so he’s responsible for my career. He’s a genius.”
Makkena, meanwhile, hired a girl group to back up help her audition. “They burst through the door and they drowned me out,” she joked.
Though she couldn’t make it in person, Dame Maggie Smith — who played Mother Superior — sent a special video message.
“I can’t believe this is happening and that it was 25 years ago,” she said. “Hello to all the nuns, I must be the oldest one left. Every single nun was wonderful. I have such fond memories of when we did those crazy, crazy, crazy films. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. I can’t believe it’s been 25 years. I send you lots of love.”
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Goldberg was especially touched, joking that she never expected an actress of Smith’s caliber to do a family comedy. “I couldn’t believe she wanted to do the movie,” she recalled, “I finally said to her, ‘You’re Maggie Smith, what are you doing here?’ And she said to me, ‘Darling, I have to eat.’ ”
Smith wasn’t the only surprise. Harvey Keitel – who played gangster Vince LaRocca — popped by with a special gift for Goldberg: a purple coat that recalled the scene in the film when Vince gives Deloris his wife’s coat.
This coat was all for Goldberg, though, with the words, “Whoopi. Love, Harvey” stitched on the inside.