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PADUCAH -- Preparing to step into her first leading role on a national theater tour has required Renee Veronica Freeman to adjust her habits -- literally and figuratively.

The 26-year-old Florida native is pulling double duty with the traveling cast of “Sister Act,” which opened this week in Wilmington, Delaware.

For two shows each week, Freeman plays the role of Deloris, made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 film of the same name. During the other performances, she plays Michelle, Deloris’s back up singer, and a nun in the ensemble chorus.

“I’ve got two brains, and somehow I’ve figured it out,” she said of the balancing act, noting it's both challenging, as she has to remember different stage cues for each role, and exciting, as it is an opportunity to explore different characters throughout the week.

It’s the role of Deloris that really stands out, though, to Freeman, who described the original movie as a childhood favorite.

“It’s really a dream role for any actress,” she said. “Her journey is so wonderful; it’s a gift for any actress.”

Stepping into the iconic role has tested Freeman’s abilities and given her new opportunities to push herself. For the young actress, she’s discovered a lot about herself and her abilities through the past several weeks of rehearsal.

“I have learned that I am stronger that I ever thought I was,” she said of the demands of playing Deloris. “She runs a sprint and a marathon at the same time for two hours.”

The opportunity has also been a big step forward in Freeman’s career, following up on her debut national and international tour last year with “Dreamgirls,” in which she performed in an ensemble role.

“Tonight, it’s about taking away the nerves I had and having even more fun,” Freeman said Wednesday morning before her official debut as Deloris.

The musical shares much of the same plot with the movie, but it also adds several new elements. Deloris remains a woman on the run, hiding in witness protection, who helps a convent of nuns discover their abilities and talents while finding a bit of herself at the same time.

“You get so many musical numbers you won’t find in the film; you get a whole lot of characters with deep personalities,” she said.

The national tour of “Sister Act” comes to The Carson Center at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22. Tickets are $37 to $59 and can be purchased online at www.thecarsoncenter.org or by calling 618-450-4444.

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