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Phyllis Lee Contestable a True Rochester Story

By on March 7, 2017

Phyllis Lee Contestable, 69, is a true Rochester success story. A 1964 Mercy High School graduate, she appeared in the off-Broadway show Nunsense, and has toured around the country performing in the critically acclaimed Broadway Musical Sister Act. She has appeared in many other performances sharing her craft of musicality and humor.

Phyllis Contestable was raised near Cobb’s Hill and enjoyed her summers on Lake Ontario in Hilton with her family. She graduated from Nazareth College, and entered the convent. She left the convent after 6 years and began to explore the world. “I understand the culture and it is an honor,” Contestable said.

Phyllis Contestable is known as Reverend Mother in the entertainment industry for her role in Nunsense. She is passionate about what she does. “She has played that role many times, as have many actresses, but I think she took it to the next level when she created her own Reverend Mother persona and took her on the road,” said Jim Vollerten, CEO, Rochester Association of Performing Arts.

Contestable expanded her impact by earning a teaching K-12 master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from The College at Brockport. She focused on voice and music, with an eye to mentor future generations. “As an educator I strongly believe in English Language Arts, and the ability to read and write,” said Contestable. She currently teaches at Churchville-Chili Middle School.

Contestable will be performing in the upcoming First Rochester Production of Sister Act. Contestable is taking on a lead role in a refreshing musical. “This is a great facility and very professional cast and crew,” said Contestable. The cast also has wonderfully comments about her. Billy a seasoned actor at RAPA, a Rochesterian, and music professor said, “She is wonderful and makes it easy and comfortable to work with her.” Meredith Lipman and Sable Stewart both actresses performing in Sister Act said, “She is a treasure to work with. Everyone in the cast is working together and is focused on entertaining in this hilarious show.”

Phyllis Contestable has come a long way, from growing up as a young girl in Cobb’s Hill, to performing on stage, and becoming an educator. She lives in Hilton and often invites cancer survivors to her lakeside home. Her hope is to create a healing place. “I didn’t ask for anything, all of this just happened and it was as if I was meant to do this with my life, the local support in Rochester is great,” said Contestable.

Performances of Sister Act are Saturday, March 4, at 7:30PM; Sunday, March 5, at 2PM; Friday, March 10, at 7:30PM; Saturday, March 11, at 7:30PM; and Sunday, March 12, at 2PM.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 585-254-0073. Discounts are available for students and seniors, and half-priced tickets are available for kids 12 and under.

by Tyler Brown

Provided Photo