“Nunsense” at La Comedia Dinner Theatre Jan. 23 - Feb. 16, 2020.
Nunsense is a hilarious, over-the-top musical comedy featuring five valiant nuns belting, twirling and tap dancing their way to fund-raising enough money to properly bury 52 recently departed sisters.
Sister Julia, the convent cook, inadvertently poisoned the Little Sisters of Hoboken after serving them vichyssoise. The surviving nuns: ballet-loving Sister Leo, street-wise Sister Robert Anne, befuddled Sister Mary Amnesia, the Mother Superior Sister Regina, and mistress of the novices Sister Mary Hubert must stage a talent show in the school gymnasium to raise the money!
Get in the habit of laughing, because Nunsense will restore your faith in the power of comedy!
by Mike Woody
The biggest case of food poisoning since in ‘Airplane,’ (Surely, you’ve seen it) has wreaked havoc upon The Little Sisters of Hoboken. The result is so hilariously fatal that some of the victims are temporarily being stored in the freezer. To recover from the loss, the Sisters must hold a talent show as a fundraiser, all culminating into ‘Nunsense.’ (Yes, I’m serious and sorry for calling you Shirley). A musical comedy ‘Nunsense’ plays on the La Comedia stage through February 16.
If the Sisters of Hoboken are any indication, maybe I should start hanging out at convents because nuns are apparently lots of fun. Plus, it’s cheaper entertainment than cable. The cast is a very cohesive unit, who all work well with each other and their voices blend together to form a blessed sound. After all, nuns singing together is the next best thing after hearing a group of angels. The leader is Reverend Mother Sister Regina (Claire Sherer). Whether a Lutheran in ‘The Church Basement Ladies’ or a Nun, Sherer provides a heavenly presence on the stage. Though the character is typically wound tight, and is a stickler for good posture, Sherer steals the show with a hilarious scene in which she lets loose. After accidentally becoming under the influence from smelling an inebriating substance, Sherer gives a Master level performance in the art of comedy.
Karie - Lee Sutherland, the vixen of La Comedia, is Sister Mary Amnesia. She spends the show trying to remember her last name, which was forgotten due to an unfortunate blow to the head. Even the habit that Sutherland adorns can’t cover her radiant charm. There’s also Tina Shatto as the Brooklyn born, Sister Robert Anne. She yearns for a moment in the spotlight, which Shatto takes full advantage of with her solo of ‘I Just Want to be a Star.’ Her vocal prowess is matched only by her impressions which range from Princess Leia to Pippi Longstocking.
The second in command at the convent is Sister Mary Hubert (Linda Dew), who makes some wise cracks. She never gets the stage all to herself, but is a strong supporting player. The youngest of the group is Hannah Brown as Sister Mary Lou, who aspires to use a dance as her ministry. Minus a tutu Brown displays her fancy footwork and gifted voice throughout the show.
There are plenty of laughs in ‘Nunsense,’ but I feel it could use a stronger plot, along with more heart and variety. If lead to be more emotionally invested in the characters, a whole other level of enjoyment could be had. It’s by no fault of the cast, they are all great, the script just needs a little more weight. Guess I just like a little suspenseful drama with my comedy. Also, the ‘talent show’ would benefit from more skills than just song and dance. The best moments are when the mold gets broken. It’s not the type of musical in which you leave singing the songs and rush to buy/download the soundtrack. It’s what happens during the songs that really stand out. There were a few such occasions, but many of the acts seemed too similar.
A stand-out moment, which for example included some extra variety, was when Sister Mary Amnesia added ventriloquism to her song. Listen closely for the name of the puppet as it’s my favorite joke of the show and though tempting I don’t want to ruin it. Ironically, it’s Sister Mary Amnesia who is responsible for another memorable moment. She breaks the fourth wall and interacts with the audience to quiz the audience over the details of a song. While Sutherland’s body (of work) is impressive, the quiz scene is among her best ever. Speaking of engaging with the audience, a Sister may also visit your table for a greeting towards the end of your meal.
On behalf of my wife, I must mention the inclusion of Fried Green Tomatoes on the buffet as she loves them. She’d like for them to be offered more often. I gave her my helping, and filled up on meats, and of course sweet potato soufflé.
‘Nunsense’ continues at La Comedia through February 16.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.
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