BWW Review: NUNSENSE at The Gateway
Dan Goggin's Nunsense, now playing at Bellport's Gateway Playhouse, is certainly a treat. It was never officially on Broadway per se', but rather it has lead a very successful thirty-three years with consistent incarnations off-Broadway and at regional and local theatres. Running through June 23rd as part of Gateway's dazzling (and busy!) 69th season, this production is all about fun.
Gateway vet Keith Andrews excellently directs - and choreographs - the outstanding cast that comprises of Kate Chapman, Tamara Della Anderson, Alexa Jane Lowis, Caitlin Mesiano, and Krista Kurzberg. The tale follows a Convent called The Little Sisters of Hoboken as they produce a variety show in a school auditorium. You see, one of their sisters who we don't officially meet, Chef Julia Child Of God (see what they did there?), accidently poisons and kills all but the five women of the Convent. I know THAT doesn't sound like fun, but trust me.
Initially, they raise funds via a successful greeting card company for their burials. However, they have run out of money since Mother Regina, portrayed brilliantly by Ms. Chapman, brought the convent a Smart TV (against Sister Hubert's line of thinking in no uncertain terms). Mother Regina thought there might have been enough money, but four of their sisters have remained unburied. So, they decide to put on a variety show for the extra money which is what we're seeing as an audience. Undeniably a highlight is Ms. Chapman's rendition of "Turn Up The Spotlight" which is enthusiastically received.
By the way... nuns with a Smart TV? In a thirty-three year old show? Yes, indeed. Mr. Goggin has cleverly written this story so it could be told in present day. In other words, the script seems to be often tailored for the theatre that is producing the show. As mentioned this incarnation is set a school auditorium - great set design by Michael Boyer - with a Smart TV purchased for the Convent. In a previous production I attended five years ago, I walked into that theatre and saw the set for their previous show with the premise of the nuns "using a stage at a local theatre" with Mother Regina purchasing the latest Ipad for the Convent. There is a lot of room to get really creative and funny.
But I digress, back to the incredible cast.
There is an abundance of audience interaction. In fact, the audience is acknowledged the majority of the two act musical. The cast, in character, walks around chatting with people. This is in addition to a free-throw basketball game and a "quiz" conducted by the adorable Sister Mary Amnesia (Ms. Mesiano). The nearly sold out audience eagerly indulges. Ms. Mesiano also performs a hilarious version of "So You Want To Be A Nun" with a sassy puppet ala` Avenue Q.
Ms. Anderson exuberantly portrays Sister Mary Hubert. She is delightfully dynamic and certainly an audience favorite is her energetic rendition of "Holier Than Thou". Sister Hubert is Mother Regina's right hand woman and Ms. Chapman and Ms. Anderson indeed have a great rapport.
Also a highlight among the cast is Alexa Jane Lowis who strongly portrays Sister Robert Anne. At first an aspiring actress, Sister Robert Anne eventually secures a spot in the talent show. This is in addition to having several fun numbers throughout show with the company. She rightfully receives a rousing round of applause for her performance of "I Just Want to Be a Star".
And completing the superb cast, Ms. Kurzberg portrays Sister Mary Leo who is determined to become the world's first ballerina nun. Ms. Kurzberg has several performances showing off her beautiful ballet dancing particularly during "Benedicite" for which she receives thunderous applause.
And so it seems, per usual, The Gateway Playhouse has another hit (and fantastic season) on their hands. It is a entertaining show with a wonderful cast marking a fun evening. Without a doubt these feisty nuns will surely lift your spirits.
Nunsense is presented by The Gateway of Bellport, Long Island, through June 23rd. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call (631) 286-1133 or visit www.thegateway.org.
Created by Dan Goggin, Directed and Choreographed by Keith Andrews (Gateway: Little Shop of Horrors, Saturday Night Fever, the Regional Premiere of Rock of Ages, et al; National Tours: The Full Monty, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh) Musical Direction by Robert Felstein (Off Broadway: The Fantasticks), Lighting Design by Bill Stonehouse, Sound Design by Mitchell Hampton, Set Design by Michael Boyer, Stage Management by Casky Hunsader, Casting by Michael Baker
Starring Kate Chapman as the Mother Superior Mary Regina (Broadway: Mary Poppins, Les Misérables, The Pajama Game, Saturday Night Fever; Film: Chicago) Tamara Della Anderson as Sister Mary Hubert, Alexa Jane Lowis as Sister Robert Ann, Caitlin Mesiano as Sister Mary Amnesia, and Krista Kurzberg as Sister Mary Leo.
Photo by Jeff Bellante; Alexa Jane Lowis as Sister Robert Ann, Krista Kurtzberg as Sister Mary Leo, Kate Chapman as Sister Mary Regina, Tamara Della Anderson as Sister Mary Hubert and Caitlin Mesiano as Sister Mary Amnesia in Nunsense. (left to right)