BWW INTERVIEW: “Religious Vaudeville Meets Talent Show!” Kate Metroka and Sophia Decker Sing and Shout About NUNSENSE at Marietta Theatre Company
Atlanta audiences were in for laughs this past weekend when NUNSENSE opened at the Marietta Theatre Company. Playing at the Lyric Studio on the Square, the hit musical comedy brings serious comedic and vocal chops to a hysterical and ridiculous plot - conveyed by what would traditionally be the most no-nonsense characters ever: a group of 5 nuns of the Little Sisters of Hoboken. After a soup-related disaster strikes their convent, the typically upright and strict Nuns are forced to work together and put on a musical revue to raise money. The urgency of the fundraiser? They still need to bury 4 of their dead sisters.
The crazy antics of the show include a sister who can't remember her name, a Mother Superior with a true superiority complex, and a Nun who secretly desires to be a ballerina. But, the real heart of NUNSENSE comes when the sisters have to overcome their many differences in order to save their convent. We sat down with Kate Meroka (Sister Robert Anne) and Sophia Decker (Sister Mary Amnesia) to discuss their time in the Habit!
How has the process of putting NUNSENSE together been so far?
KM: The process for me has been great. I am new to the Atlanta area, and I am just coming back from having a baby a little over a year ago. I was ready to ease back into things and thought this would be a great fit. Turns out it was much meatier that I expected! Its surprisingly complex. Usually, people think NUNSENSE is a bunch of old women who can't really sing....but our show is not that at all! There are girls tapping, dancing en pointe, accent work, stylized comedy, and vocally challenging solos. There is audience interaction, puppet work, and an Andrews Sisters-type song with tight harmonies. This show is a beast!
SD: The process of working on NUNSENSE has been absolutely incredible. I have been doing theatre in the Atlanta area for many years, and I was actually teaching Voice full time at Orbit Arts Academy in Sandy Springs, which is a wonderful local program teaching to kids and young adults. Shane Simmons, our Music Director, was the one to convinced me to audition. I was so impressed with the space and had my fingers crossed that I would be able to be a part of Marietta Theater Company. They valued our time and each rehearsal was slam packed with good hard work. Our director Stephanie Earle's direction is unapparelled. She hears what you are saying without even having to speak. Her energy and passion lit a fire under all of us. It was so much fun to get to know all the girls, and I really believed I've made some lasting friendships and found some very fierce talent.
NUNSENSE has a successful history, having run off-broadway many years ago and with frequent regional productions, but how would you describe the show to someone who is not familiar with it?
SD: The show is about 5 ridiculously loveable nuns who are forced to put on a variety show, in order to raise money to bury 4 dead sisters who have comically ended up in the freezer. They are each so well written, and the humor just touches you to the core. The audience interaction is worth the price of admission alone. You feel like you're back in Catholic School...Maybe minus the rulers!
KM: In one sentence, I would describe it as Religious Vaudeville meets Talent Show!
Kate, your character is described as a streetwise nun from Brooklyn. Sophia, yours is described as "delightfully wacky" (because a crucifix fell on her head) - how do you relate to your characters, even when they are nuns?
SD: Amnesia is a dream role. She is this sweet and innocent little fire cracker who just can't seem to get it together. I would love to describe myself the same way... or at least I'm hoping so! Her forgetfulness can sometimes play as annoying for the audience, so it's been a challenge to find a way to bring them in on my journey and keep them laughing.
KM: My character is the "wild card" in the group with a good sense of humor...she is able to let things roll off her back. Its revealed that she had a tough upbringing, and I think I play her with a little more empathy than is traditionally done.
SD: Kate's character is just so much fun to watch. Here is this beautiful, kind human and then suddenly - this Jersey belting super star knocks you out of your seat!
This show features quite a few songs and dance numbers. Which is your favorite, and why?
KM: My favorite song is Sophie's big solo, "So You Want to be a Nun"....it is a true display of vocal chops and hysterical lyrics.
SD: I love to tap! I was so pumped when they said we would really be tapping. It's been nice getting back into tapping and having a choreographer like Zac (Zac Phelps) has been a joy. He's so creative and the dancing is just fun. My song "So you want to be a Nun" is very unexpected if you've never seen the show. It might just surprise you. I won't say too much more because I don't want to spoil anything!
NUNSENSE will play at the Lyric Studio on the Square from August 17 through September 1 with shows at 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information on Marietta Theatre Company and to stay up to date on upcoming season information, please visit mariettatheatre.com