Review: Denise Fennell-Pasqualone Once Again Strikes Comedy Gold with World Premiere of SISTER'S IRISH CATECHISM: SAINTS, SNAKES, AND GREEN MILKSHAKES

Running through St. Patrick's Day, this wonderfully unique show will get you rolling with laughter!

By: Mar. 01, 2024
Review: Denise Fennell-Pasqualone Once Again Strikes Comedy Gold with World Premiere of SISTER'S IRISH CATECHISM: SAINTS, SNAKES, AND GREEN MILKSHAKES
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Review: Denise Fennell-Pasqualone Once Again Strikes Comedy Gold with World Premiere of SISTER'S IRISH CATECHISM: SAINTS, SNAKES, AND GREEN MILKSHAKES
Denise Fennell-Pasqualone

I walked into Stages for the first time last April, and that is when I saw Denise Fennell-Pasqualones new, original one-woman comedy play, THE BRIDE, OR: DOES THIS DRESS MAKE ME LOOK MARRIEDco-written and performed by her. It was such a fun and great introduction to Stages, a smaller theater known for its unique plays on the human experience. Also, this was the day I first met Fennell-Pasqualone, who showcased her big personality, infectious vigor, and charming stories to boot.

However, that show was about her own life, and she played as herself. "Sister's Irish Catechism: Saints, Snakes, And Green Milkshakes" is a bit different, showcasing Fennell-Pasqualone’s incredible range of acting abilities as she brings to life the character of “Sister” from the “Late Nite Catechism” series, originally curated and written by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan. However, Fennell-Pasqualone has concocted a new twist to this one-of-kind production…


For the “Late Nite Catechism” series of shows, actors dress up as a character named “Sister” and lead their audiences through a “class” full of audience interaction and hilarity. As a performer, Fennell-Pasqualone has been playing “Sister” for many years now, and in the shows of hers that I have been a part of (no one can simply just watch them), she leads an interrogative, comedic evening where Sister teaches her audience about her values and viewpoints as a Catholic nun. However–for this specific segment–she focuses on preaching how St. Patrick's Day needs to be reclaimed by the Catholic church, since it does have religious origins.

Every performance of this show is uniquely shaped by who is in the audience. After watching two performances of this show (one by myself and one with my family and boyfriend), I believe that a good 65-70% of each of her 2-hour 15-minute shows are improvised. Since each performance is very different, this makes the show sparkle and shine because it is a show that you can watch over and over. Sister tackles big topics in such an intense yet lovable way, and laughter ensues as she also critiques the behaviors of the audience members. She notices everything that goes on, and she is not afraid to share any of her thoughts!

Now, I find it critical to share: I went into my first experience with this show COMPLETELY BLIND, and I think it is the best way to do it. I did not know what to expect, and I was surprised and delighted by Fennell-Pasqualone’s bold and hilarious character. I suggest that everyone stops reading the review here, buys their tickets, and attends the show.

However–if you really would like to hear more about the shenanigans that happen on the Smith Stage–I shall give you a taste.

Review: Denise Fennell-Pasqualone Once Again Strikes Comedy Gold with World Premiere of SISTER'S IRISH CATECHISM: SAINTS, SNAKES, AND GREEN MILKSHAKES
Show Poster for 
"Sister's Irish Catechism: Saints, Snakes, and Green Milkshakes"

As soon as you walk in, you see a stage with basic tiling, a desk with a lot of Catholic items on it, a small set of shelves that looks like someone threw up St. Patrick’s Day all over it, and a lectern. The audience is wrapped around the stage on all four sides, and there are two levels for people to watch from.

Then, the lights go down, green spotlights start dancing around (making it look like a St. Patrick’s Day rave), and Irish music starts to play with rousing spirit. Sister runs onstage and starts clapping and Irish dancing, bringing and setting up the energy for a night to remember.

Sister then goes into her speech of how St. Patrick’s Day is special to her (here, it seems that Fennell-Pasqualone is talking from experiences and sentiments of both Sister’s life as well as her own life). However, then she begins to speak on how the U.S. has ruined St. Patrick's Day and made it a holiday all about money and drinking. Therefore, she shares how she feels the call to educate us about the true origins and meanings of the holiday, and the lesson begins.

She teaches what catechism is, the basis of the Catholic religion, the history of St. Patrick, what other saints are involved with St. Patrick’s Day, and where we are failing as a country, society, and community when it comes to respecting this blessed holiday’s origins. There are pop quizzes, and Sister also maintains a tight classroom to maximize learning (and fun for all)! She will make sure to have women cover their revealing cleavage with Kleenexes, give punishment to those who come in and out of the theater, and comment on any responses shouted out in the most investigative (yet still loving) way.

During intermission, Fennell-Pasqualone stresses the fact that she wants all audience members to treat the lobby as an Irish pub and socialize with each other, not sit like zombies on their phones. She even gives them a question to ask other patrons there: “How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?” During both of the performances that I attended, we as an audience felt like one group of friends after intermission due to the shared experiences we had with Sister over the hour before. It is a bonding experience, to be sure.

As for the second act, we go into a large, interactive group project where all hands are on deck…but you know what? I am going to leave that for you to experience when YOU attend the show. I do not want to spoil it one bit. All I will say for now is that everyone will be hooting and hollering during this section of the show. It is a party and a half!

One more item about this show I would like to express and stress: even if you are not Catholic or do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you will be welcomed into this space. Sister makes fun of everyone equally–including her own religion–and she emphasizes that no judgment will be allowed in her space (outside of her own, of course). As a raised Catholic (but not practicing Catholic), I felt the space was very accepting and warm to people of all faiths, and it brought every audience member–no matter their differences–closer together. This show is certainly not one to miss!


Tickets to "Sister's Irish Catechism: Saints, Snakes, and Green Milkshakes" are now on sale and start at $25. Tickets can be purchased online (stageshouston.com) or by phone (713-537-0123.) Click here to buy your tickets now!




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