Also see John's review of Blood Brothers
The original production of Nunsense premiered in Manhattan at the Duplex Cabaret in 1983. It then moved in an expanded version to the Cherry Lane Theatre, where it won four Outer Critics Awards, including Best Off-Broadway Musical. It next moved to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre running Off-Broadway for over ten years. The success of the original Nunsense propelled author Dan Goggin to create what followed: 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.
In this installment of the Nunsense series, four members of The Little Sisters of Hoboken take to the high seas aboard Eden Cruise Lines' Faiths of All Nations cruise. When the entire cast of cruise ship entertainers (except one), succumbs to seasickness, the sisters graciously step in to put on a show for the other passengers. They are assisted by Howard, who is the only cast member left standing, and was slated to be Tevye in the ship production of Fiddler On The Roof.
Author Dan Goggin is understandably challenged to write sequels to Nunsense that retain the endearing freshness and flavor of the original. The script to Meshuggah-Nuns! is so painfully thin it may well leave you wondering why he bothered. The jokes are mostly stale, and the melodies, though vaguely familiar, are all too forgettable. Nunsense fans may ask why the absence of Sister Mary Leo is never explained.
The performances of Jeanne Tinker (Sister Mary Paul) and Carolyn Droscoski (Sister Robert Anne) go a long way toward making this production entertaining. Tinker is quirky and bubbly, and always in character. Droscoski captures the tom-boyish warmth and direct nature of Robert Anne that make her charming. The character of Sister Mary Hubert lies dormant too much of the show for the placement of the song "Rock The Boat," sung by Bambi Jones (Sister Mary Hubert), to make her interesting. Bonnie Lee (Reverend Mother) does a nice job in the duet "Duty Free shopping," but is lacking some facial animation and she struggles with consistency with her Irish accent. Despite some weighty previous credits, David Edward is most disappointing as Howard. His performance on the evening attended was markedly low on energy. He delivered his jokes with weak comedic commitment, and lacked sincerity in his emotional moment in the "A Love Like This." As he rarely looked past the third row, and could barely be heard in the group numbers, it felt like he was marking his way through the performance. While the premise of this show potentially holds an entertaining visit with those Little Sisters of Hoboken we've come to love, this production of Meshuggah-Nuns! misses the boat.
Meshuggah-Nuns! will be appearing through May 8, 2011, at the newly opened Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. The Aventura Center, which is a Broward Center for the Performing Arts affiliated venue, is a 324-seat waterfront performing arts facility located at 3385 N.E. 188th St. in Aventura, Florida. For more information on the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222, or online at www.AventuraCenter.org.
*Designates member of Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.