"It changed my life," the 28-year-old actor said of the 1993 movie musical. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, Johnson was a standing member of his church choir, and Whoopi Goldberg's performance as the lounge singer-turned-nun Sister Mary Clarence struck particularly close to home during his formative years.
"It was the movie that allowed me to have my church upbringing and also bring in pop music at the same time," he told The Huffington Post in an interview. "It was something that my mom was comfortable with me watching, and seeing that movie and how they blended pop music with religious music [was everything]."
Currently seen on the ABC drama series, "Quantico," Johnson said his love of "Sister Act 2" also influenced his new cabaret act, which will feature rock, pop, country and gospel alongside the show tunes for which he's best known. Viewers who root for Johnson as the brainy-yet-socially-challenged FBI agent Will Olsen on "Quantico" may not even be aware of the actor's stints in Broadway musicals like "Hands on a Hardbody" and the 2014 revival of "On The Town." So he wants the show, which plays New York's Feinstein's/54 Below on April 27, 29 and 30, to showcase the song-and-dance skills that made him a stage favorite well before he hit the small screen.
He'll offer a few personal revelations, too. In press notes, Johnson said that "theater and music saved his life," and that his show explores his journey from a bullied gay teen to the stage star he is today.
Calling the show his "biggest undertaking personally," Johnson is raising money through an Indiegogo fundraiser in hopes of having his performance preserved as a live album, too. (Check out a video for Johnson's campaign at top)
Given that network TV has given him an entirely new fanbase, Johnson feels the timing for an album couldn't be better.
"It feels like my audience has broadened from just the theater world to people who watch network TV from their comfort of their couches in Montana or California," he said. "I'm trying to put myself out there in a bigger way. I've known that I've wanted to do a concert of this nature for a while, and I was just waiting for the right time."
Even audiences familiar with the actor's musicality will find a few surprises along the way, Johnson said. He'll be joined by fellow Broadway performer Lindsay Mendez and "Glee" actor Billy Lewis, Jr. during all three nights of his run. A longtime pal of Johnson's, YouTube sensation Todrick Hall will make an appearance at the April 30 show.
"This whole show has been an accumulation of maybe three or four years of just my brain working toward my dream show," Johnson told HuffPost.
And while Johnson now has varied achievements in the arts, there's clearly still a part of him that clings to being the "Sister Act 2"-loving choir boy of his youth. "I’m gonna throw in a little gospel tune and make my mom cry," he quipped.