Port Arthur ISD administrator Jael Moody delivers spotlight performance in “Sister Act”

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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It wasn’t hard for Jael Moody to step into Sister Mary Robert’s shoes.

It was a familiar role for the Port Arthur Independent School District testing coordinator and dyslexia supervisor.

“I can really relate to her. Her story is my story — growing up being that shy, quiet goody two-shoes who obeyed every rule and developed into this woman who finally has a voice,” she said. “Because I could relate to her, I knew she was the perfect character for me.”

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Moody, who is among the cast of Beaumont Community Player’s production of “Sister Act,” didn’t step on a stage until 2018, when she was cast in “The Gospel According to Scrooge” with the Jonathan Williams Center for the Performing Arts in Beaumont. It started out as an attempt to work on something she loved, accidentally leading her to another passion.

“I grew up in church, so I always sang in church,” she said. “Over time I stopped. In my late 20s I started going back to my first love, which was music. Then my husband and I decided I would start vocal coaching just to enhance my voice, and the person who was my vocal coach was the one doing ‘The Gospel According to Scrooge.’”

He asked her to audition, and she landed the role, which she performed for two consecutive years.

“That was my first time ever acting,” Moody said. “I was never in drama club. I wasn’t in choir in school, because — again — I was the Mary Robert. I was super quiet, really shy. I was scared to try out for choir or dance.”

But from the first show, she fell in love with theater.

My sister was in drama club, so I would go to her events,” she said. “I always knew I would end up singing. I was too shy, but in my heart I knew that’s what I wanted to do. But with the theater, I didn’t realize that I was going to love that.”

In 2020, Moody joined PAISD’s production of “Dreamgirls,” in which she played Deena Jones. The character is portrayed by Beyoncé in the film.

“It had been a while, and I really, really enjoy the stage. I did ‘Dreamgirls,’ I loved it and missed it,” she said.

So she decided to audition for “Sister Act.” And since opening Feb. 24, the online reviews for the show have been glowing.

“The show is directed by Cheryl Guidry and features a lineup of solid vocal talent,” wrote Tim Sudela. “However, your ears will be pleasantly surprised by the talent of the postulant! I’m not sure, but I believe her name is Mary.”

And it’s not the only public comment directed specifically at Moody.

“This young lady is the hidden gem of the show,” wrote Patrick Anderson. “She starts out soft voiced quiet shy and easy missed. But by the end her voice is bigger than life. She captures you with her voice and doesn’t let go. What an amazing performer and singer. You were a show stopper.”

Moody says attendees leave satisfied with the production.

“They will laugh, and they will cry,” she said. “It is a comedy, but it really emphasizes the importance of sisterhood. It’s really touching as it relates to having a village of sisters and women by your side to support you. They’ll expect the comedy, they’ll expect the drama, they’ll expect some suspense. There’s a lot in the storyline.”

Catch “Sister Act” March 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30; and March 4 at 2 p.m. at 4155 Laurel Avenue, Beaumont.