BWW Review: NUNSENSE A-MEN! - a Blessing in Disguise!
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Dan Goggin
February 10, 2013 at 2PM
BRAVO!, for THIS "Change of Habit!".
In "NUNSENSE A-MEN!, Dan Goggin's, (1985 hit musical comedy, "NUNSENSE"), with original script and score of the 5 woman cast, is played with a little twist, all of the roles are played by men!
Either way, "NUNSENSE A-MEN!" is a spoof, full of "campy"NON"sense and "NON"-stop fun! And that is exactly what you will see in this intimate production by M.A.D. Theatre of Tampa.
After seeing the original "Nunsense" many, many times, and the sequal and additional series of "Nunsense-esqe" productions by Dan Goggin, (and there are so many, Nuns in Las Vegas, Country Western Nuns, Nuns on cruise ships, Nuns at Christmas, and even "Nunset Blvd"and the list goes on); what I find most interesting, is that audiences around the globe just LOVE those Little Sisters and can't wait to see them in every conceivable (or rather inconceivable) situation. And now, in "NUNSENSE A-MEN!"... men in drag! However, there is nothing in this production that refers to or brings attention to "men" playing nuns. And that is what makes this production so successful. In fact, after a few minutes the audience forgets the fact, and just enjoys the show.
The original plot is the same. It revolves around the "Little Sisters of Hoboken", who need to raise money to bury 4, (out of the 52 dead nuns) who were accidentally poisoned by the "deadly soup" prepared by the convent cook. So the surviving Sisters, Reverend Mother Mary Regina, (a former circus performer), the mistress of novices, Sister Mary Hubert, the street wise, Sister Robert Anne, the "nutty as a fruitcake", Sister Mary Amnesia, (who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head), and a young novitiate (and wannabe ballerina) , Sister Mary Leo, put on a musical/benefit , to raise money to bury the 4 remaining dead nuns.
Rather than taking place in the "original" setting, of the student production of "Grease", this production is set on the student production of "The Wizard of Oz", (designed by Dwayne A. Cline). There is a wall mural of the Emerald City, along with hay stacks, a chicken coop, a cornfield and at one side, Dorothy's bedroom. And director Tony Gilkinson makes it all work very well in the small confines of the Shimberg stage.
Bravo!, to this marvelous ensemble of actors, who volunteer their time and talents. They work very well together; each of them appearing very comfortable delivering the one line jokes and with audience interaction.
Rick Faurote leads the cast as the Irish accented, disciplinarian, Reverend Mother, Mary Regina. Mr. Faurote's acting abilities shine in his "getting high" scene and he displays both his comedic and vocal talents, admirably in "Turn Up the Spotlight", complete with Sally Rand fans.
D.J. Holt provided lots of laughs with great comic timing, as the wise-cracking, Brooklyn born, Sister Robert Anne. Mr. Holt belted out, "I Just Want to Be a Star"and gave a tender performance in "Growing Up Catholic", a scene highlight.
The ever smiling, Marcus Blake, as the bewildered and naive, Sister Mary Amnesia, got to show off his wide vocal range, from the pseudo-operatic, "So You Want to Be a Nun" to the country western style, "I Could've Gone to Nashville". In addition, Mr. Blake delighted the audience with his interactive "Quiz".
The humorous, "Dying Nun Ballet" was performed to the hilt, by Kevin Lara as Sister Mary Leo. Mr. Lara was adorable and very believable throughout the show, as the young novitiate, especially in "Benedicite".
Director and actor Tony Gilkinson as Sister Mary Hubert, got the audience clapping and rocking in their seats with his gospel-like, "Holier Than Thou".
The singing wasn't always on pitch, but could be overlooked by the heartwarming enthusiasm of the cast. The sometimes overpowering, five piece, onstage band lead by Musical Director/Keyboard I/Conductor, Mark Anthony Jelks, accompanied the performers on the tiny stage. A "piano only" accompaniment, may have enhanced this production given the close quarters of the Shimberg, allowing more space for blocking and choreography. Director Tony Gilkinson did a commendable job overcoming these staging challenges.
It was obvious from the somewhat younger audience, that although a few of the lines have been updated, some of the jokes fell flat, (not due to the actors), but because they are simply outdated.
That being said, it was equally as obvious, that the appreciative audience had a great time, laughing out loud, applauding, and giving this production of "NUNSENSE A-MEN! a rousing standing ovation.
*Note: This production is for mature audiences.
"Nunsense A-Men!" is presented in 2 Acts with a 15 minute intermission.
"NUNSENSE A-MEN!" runs February 7-17, 2013 at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Art's Shimberg Theater,
1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa.
Tickets start are $20.00 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at www.strazcenter.org
M.A.D. Theatre is a non-profit organization run by community volunteers.