Sisterly advice

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"The Sound of Music" is iconic for its singing nuns, seven mischievous children and the beloved love story between Maria and Captain Von Trapp. For the drama club of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, making the spring musical the best show of their lives included some specialized training from the Dominican sisters at school.

While singing songs in a habit may seem easy enough, many of the actresses playing the roles of nuns commented that it is much harder than one might think.

"The most difficult part of being a nun," said junior Jasmine Pierce, "is getting the mannerisms down, such as walking as real people in the world walk, not as nuns are often portrayed in movies."

Senior Annemarie Long said that her character-building was greatly helped by the guidance of the sisters, particularly Sister Ann Dominic Mahowold. She said that it was important for all the actresses playing sisters to remember who they were portraying, and to give a respectful, and faithful representation of life as Dominicans.

"From working with the sisters, I have learned that I have to balance being a sister and having a character," said Long.

Along with learning how to act like a nun, the actresses also learned how to dress like one. This training on how to wear a habit included how to treat their scapulars and how to sit, stand and kneel in a habit. It also included the quirks that come along with a habit, like subconsciously fixing sleeves and fiddling with pockets. The habits themselves were handmade by John Paul parent Karen Bow, who designed the patterns, fitted and sewed the habits for each of the 11 actresses playing nuns in the show.

When Sister Ann Dominic was asked how she trained the actresses, she stressed that dressing and acting were not the important points to make. Instead, she explained that the habit is an outward symbol of the spiritual reality and connection that sisters are a part of as brides of Christ.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016