When 52 nuns have died of botulism and funds need to be quickly scored to bury the remaining four, what is a convent to do? Well, the Little Sisters of Hoboken will host a variety show titled NUNSENSE.
Spawning from a line of greeting cards, Dan Goggin’s 1985 classical, cult-like hit has led to eight spin-offs and sequels, a television show, a museum in Connecticut and the musical has been translated into 20 different languages. The show, which has featured the likes of Rue McClanahan and Jennifer Garner in a later sequel, was one of the most successful off-Broadway productions to date.
It’s not hard to see why. What’s funnier than holier-than-thou nuns poking fun at themselves, in an almost, but not quite, offensive way?
The Little Sisters of Hoboken are in need of cash, desperately. The sublime cooking of Sister Julie (Child of God) has unfortunately left 52 nuns deceased—only 48 of which are buried, because one nun wanted to buy a wide screen television. The other four? They’ve been stashed in the walk-in freezer. Therefore the remaining nuns decide to host a little revue, NUNSENSE, and publish a cookbook to raise the cash to bury the remaining stiff sisters. They’re especially hurried once they get a letter from the Department of Health stating they must “clean out the freezer,” and “start defrosting those four blue nuns.”
Five sisters, led by Reverend Mother (Sandra Karas), tap, tell jokes and get high on stage. The other wacky nuns include Sisters Hubert (Agnes Humphrey-Copes) Mary Robert Anne (Denise Nolan), Mary Amnesia (Maureen Quigley), and Mary Leo (Maddy Apple).
With a small, professional cast of five, it’s safe to say that each character is a stand-out. Karas delivers a charming, rigid Reverend Mother. Karas, who was last seen at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse as Fraulein Schneider in “Cabaret,” delivers another heart-warming performance. As she sniffs the head happy drug “Rush,” she brings down the house trying to get her senses in order.
Humphrey-Copes delivers a reserved, but vibrant singer Sister Hubert. Humphrey has been in NUNSENSE four times at Merry-Go-Round. Apple presents a young nun, who loves to dance and combines her passion for God and movement together, such as her “Swan Lake” death ballet. Apple delivers a sweet, young girl that contrasts nicely to the Sisters Amnesia and Robert Anne. Nolan and Quigley deliver hilarious characters. From puppet performing to impressive impressions, both nuns quickly make their acts stand out in the revue.
NUNSENSE closes the company’s inaugural Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival. It will also be the last time the show will be at the festival, said producing artistic director Ed Sayles.
The show can be a little campy and dated at times, but that’s why this musical is cherished. NUNSENSE has a gathered a following for being a heart-warming comedy. Merry-Go-Round presents a show that falls right in line with the musical’s tradition and delivers the laughs and most importantly, the odd-ball, kooky nuns.
NUNSENSE is presented at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse now through Oct. 20. For tickets click here, or call 315-255-1785.
Photo Credit: Douglas Lloyd