Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Also see John's review of Barnum
The Little Sisters of Hoboken (a one-time missionary order that ran a leper colony on an island south of France) discover that their cook, Sister Julia Child of God, accidentally killed fifty-two residents of their convent with her tainted vichyssoise. The surviving nineteen sisters escaped poisoning only because they were off playing bingo with a group of Maryknolls. Upon discovering the disaster, Mother Superior (Sister Mary Regina) has a vision in which she is told to start a greeting card company to raise funds for the burials. Though the greeting cards are an enormous success, the Reverend Mother buys a VCR for the convent before paying for the last four burials. Now left with four corpses and insufficient funds to bury them, they place the corpses on ice in the kitchen deep freeze.
Five of the nuns decide to stage a variety show in the Mount Saint Helen's School auditorium to raise the money needed. The five nuns are Mother Superior Mary Regina (a former circus performer), her second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert, Sister Robert Anne (a streetwise nun from Brooklyn), Sister Mary Leo (a novice determined to be the world's first ballerina nun) and Sister Mary Amnesia who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head. As their performance draws to an end Sister Mary Amnesia recalls her true identity as Sister Mary Paul, the winner of the Publisher's Clearing House Give Away, with more than enough money to burry their four frozen late sisters.
Shannon Jami Dolan is warm and funny as Sister Mary Regina. She manages her way through a tough comic scene where her character has inhaled Rush (an isobutyl nitrite based product) like a stand up comedienne. Gina Nespoli has great acting and dancing presence as Sister Robert Anne. Kara Saadet Schwarz as Sister Mary Leo dances the part beautifully, but needs to develop the character a bit more. Nikki Bradley sings heartily as Sister Mary Hubert. Jacquelyn Toth has the difficult role in the show, as Sister Mary Amnesia has to sing high and low, change styles for her country number, and manage a hand puppet. She sings the part well, though the middle of her voice is weaker than the top and bottom. While she has funny moments, she seems a tad nervous and in need of stronger direction in securing her character. All in all, this is an enjoyable production filled with silly songs, and comic bits.
The original production of Nunsense premiered in Greenwich Village at the Duplex Cabaret in 1983. It moved in an expanded version to the Cherry Lane Theatre where it won four Outer Critics Awards including Best Off-Broadway Musical. It later moved to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre and completed an Off-Broadway run of over ten years. The success of the original Nunsense propelled author Dan Goggin to create what followed in his canon: Sister Amnesia's Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical, Nunsense 2: The Second Coming, Meshuggah Nuns, Nunsense A -Men, and Nunsensations! - The Nunsense Vegas Revue.
Nunsense will be appearing at the Lake Worth Playhouse through February 1, 2009. The theatre is located at 713 Lake Ave. in Lake Worth, FL. The Lake Worth Playhouse is a Resident Community Playhouse in it's 55th Season. Performance times are Thursdays, Fridays at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.. For tickets and/or more information about the theatre and its programs, you may contact them by phone at 561-586-6410 or online at www.lakeworthplayhouse.org.