- November 9, 2011
The Players Theatre has been blessed with a “nun”-tastic event. “Nunsense,” with book, music and lyrics by Dan Goggin, opened in 1985 and has remained off-Broadway’s second-longest running show, rivaling “The Fantastics,” and grossing more than $500 million as a result of its enduring, worldwide appeal.
The absurdist plot posits that among the order of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, its cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, has accidentally killed 52 members of the convent with her spoiled soup. The core five, who were off playing bingo, must raise the remaining funds for the burials. What will they do? Why, stage a variety show in the Mount St. Helen’s School auditorium, of course.
Director Michelle Teyke has facilitated an evening of wonderful music and witty satire with this lively vaudevillian revival, filled with joking irreverence, entertaining song and dance and wacky high jinks. She’s even updated some of the dialogue to reference modern technology. As choreographer, she’s pulled off ballet, tap, modern and madcap dance. One of the musical numbers even includes a nun puppet.
To play each highly individualistic nun, a marvelous, melodiously talented cast has been recruited. Kathy Abney plays former circus performer Mother Superior Mary Regina, who sings, “Turn up the Spotlight,” (meaning on her). She is constantly chided for using some of the burial money to buy a flat-screen HD television by Sister Mary Hubert, played with dignity and determination by Phyllis Bank, who can also grind out some funky, bluesy, soul sounds, as evidenced especially in the refrain, “Holier Than Thou.” Sue Cole, who also does funny impressions using her white veil as a prop, delivers Sister Robert Anne, a tell-it-like-it-is nun in sneakers from Canarsie. Fifteen-year-old, singing and dancing Maria Wirries plays Sister Mary Leo, a novice who wants to add ballerina to her job description, and performs a charming flying-nun ballet. Sister Mary Amnesia, who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head, is well-played by Nikki Maach-Schuster, a woman of many voices and wide ranges, including the operatic.
A full-sounding orchestra, comprised of keyboardist and Musical Director Alan J. Corey, keyboardist Seth Wertz and percussionist John Januszewski, backs all the hilarity. Kaylene McCaw provided the costume design