BWW Review: Sensational Cast Revives NUNSENSE Nostalgia at Peninsula Players Theatre
When writer Dan Goggin imagined and produced his line of greeting cards featruing sassy nuns, few people would have predicted their instant success or the award-winning, full-length musical after the fact titled Nunsense. When the show premiered on Broadway in 1985, the Nunsense phenomena continued with numerous revivals and sequels, and includes being adapted for the television screen. Fish Creek's Penninsula Players Theatre (PPT) reprises the rolicking musical from their 1987 season with a spectacular cast that shines another light on thesese angelic Little Sisters from Hoboken.
While the show's premise inspires instant comedy--almost an entire order of sister sent to their heavenly demise by savoring the cook's tainted vichyssoie--the real entertainment value lies in these actresses commanding the PPT stage. Scenic designer J. Branson delivers an authentic Catholic school gymnasium to evoke fond or not so fond memories where Reverend Mother Mary Regina wants to plan a benefit to raise money and bury the remaining sisters hidden in the freezer from the soup disaster.
To begin the PPT evening, the sisters wander through the audience asking questions while offering their blessings. Liz Pazik commands this dazzling cast as Reverend Mother, Sister Regina, which includes her own solos "Turn Up the Spotlight" and "An Unexpected Discovery." In a delightful duet with Sister Hubert's Cassie Slater, the two sing of convent cameraderie.
This five-women cast also features Cristine Mild (SIster Robert Anne), Stephanie Wahl (Sister Amnesia) and Ashley Lanyon (Sister Mary Leo), to complement each other while sharing the evening with the lonely man, Matt Super, who assists the ladies playing the stage manager. Six musicians accompany the cast, entirely visible to the audience and a treat to see perform on stage, under Musical Director Valerie Maze, hidden behind the keyboard dressed as another nun.
During the performance, Wahl gives a wonderful comic number filled with improvisation in "The Quiz," where audience participation becomes essential. In another memorable number, "Baking with the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mother," three sisters remain intensely ironic as they discuss recipes written by Mother Mary. Mild belts out "I Want to Be A Star" while she wishes to be more than an understudy in the benefit. With a show punctuated with one liners similar to "Why did Moses wander around the desert for 40 years? Becasuse he was a man and never asked directions," these women steal each scene driected by another gifted woman Karen Sheridan, and Nunsense puts a smile on everyone's face.
The musical may remind the audience of a time past, whether in a Catholic or religious school, or place of worship, where a sister or priest, pastor or teacher, enriched their real-life education. Memories which Goggin admits he drew on in creating the "Little Sisters of Hoboken" for this rolicking two hours of fun. Although the audience's memories may not include a rendition of 'The Saint Andrew Sisters or Sister Mary Amneisa's solo " I Could Have Gone to Nashville" again sung exceptionally by Wahl in a song which inspired an entire sequel to the original show.
For the night's finale, three company numbers reprise the women's talent and demonstrate why this musical endures--In other words, why "Nunsense is Habit Forming." Peninsula Players concludes an absolutely fabulous 2015 season filled with world premieres, comedy, drama, and heartwarming new plays direct from Broadway by renowned playwrights that ensure an 81st season. With this lighthearted goodbye to summer, Door County anticipates the 2016 season where for those theater addicts who require a little winter fix, PPT sponsers a play reading season beginning Monday, February 4 at Bjöklunden in Baileys Harbor. Or be sure to celebrate National Nunsense Day on February 12....Congratulations to Artistic Director Greg Vinkler, PPT and this oustanding Nunsense cast and crew for wrapping up an exhilerating summer set on the peninsula shore.
Peninsula Players presents NUNSENSE throught October 17 to conclude the 2016 season. For additional information of perforamance time and tickets, please call 920.868.3287 or visit www.peninsulaplayers.com