Some nights, Shaun Leslie Thomas is on stage, performing in "Sister Act," the hit musical comedy that's touring the country.
Other nights, he's sitting in the wings, watching the show.
Either way is fine with him.
"Some of the best nights I've had on this tour have been just watching the show," Thomas said. "I'm a huge musical theater fan, and comically this is one of the greatest shows you're ever going to see. I'm not joking."
Thomas is a "swing" in the show. He has to be prepared to play any one of four roles, or to sit off stage and observe. He often doesn't know until moments before curtain whether he's going to be an actor or an audience member.
"It gets confusing," he said. "But the audience is never going to know that I'm confused."
When "Sister Act" stops at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota for two shows on Sunday, Thomas may or may not be in the cast. But he'll have family and friends in the audience either way.
"My dad is coming for sure," he said, "and friends from Sarasota and up and down Florida."
Thomas grew up in Winter Park, and he and his family spent every weekend through the 1980s and 1990s at his grandmother's house in Sarasota. Thomas' father, Anthony Pupa, was born and raised in Sarasota.
"I love Sarasota," he said. "I got to grow up spending my weekends on Siesta Key, one of the most beautiful places in the world."
He was a fan of "Sister Act" before he was cast in the show. Someone gave him tickets, he said, and he went even though he really wasn't interested. But the show won him over.
"If you see this show you'll be glad you did," he said. "It's one of the happiest, most fun shows out there."
It's based on the 1992 movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg as night club singer who witnesses a mob hit and hides in a convent.
The musical has a book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, who wrote for "Cheers," and songs by Alan Menken, who's best known for his work on such Disney films as "Beauty and the Beast," "Pocahontas" and "The Little Mermaid."
Before "Sister Act" moved to Broadway in 2011, playwright Douglas Carter Beane ("The Country Club") came on as a script doctor and reworked the book. The show ran for a respectable five months and nearly 600 performances.
So the current version has been twice adapted, first by the Steinkellners and then by Beane, so there are significant differences between the film's story and that of the musical.
"But it's the same idea," Thomas said.
Thomas said he's impressed with the entire cast, especially the actors who play the nuns.
"I'll give a special shout-out to our nuns," he said. "Our nuns rock the house."
And though none of Menken's songs from the show are familiar to people who haven't seen it, they're the kind that stick in your mind.
"Once you hear them you'll remember them," Thomas said. "They're super-catchy and so much fun."
Details: Jan. 4, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 1:30 and 7 p.m. Tickets: $55-85. Information: 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.