Review: NUNSENSE at Stage Left Productions

A Habit Forming Musical Comedy

By: Jun. 04, 2024
Review: NUNSENSE at Stage Left Productions
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Stage Left Productions in Surprise, Arizona presented NUNSENSE, a delightful musical comedy created by Dan Goggins. Directed by Cody Dull with choreography by James Marinaro, this slightly naughty story captures the foibles of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, New Jersey, while they prepared to host a fund raiser at Mount Saint Helen’s School.

Stage Left Productions’ cozy theatre was perfect for this audience-participation parody of nun-life and the nuns’ out-of-convent activities. Mother Superior, played by real-life Irish Catholic Siobhan Henry, tries her best to manage – or prevent – the shenanigans of her ambitious Sisters: Sister Robert Anne, performed by Erin Boston; Mistress of Novices Sister Mary Hubert, played by Suze St. John (also the prop designer); Sister Mary Amnesia, by Kathryn Katsikis; Sister Mary Leo, the dancing novice played by Lauren Mauser; and Sister Mary Stitcher, performed by Christi Gray, who also designed the costumes: the usual habits of nunnery, enhanced by clever props.

The Sisters have taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in service to God and humanity. Humanity, being fleeting, is challenged by an unfortunate series of events: miscalculations, kitchen mishaps, and financial burdens. Thus, the fundraiser (or fun-raiser?) is planned. These nuns are energetic, and the actors playing them are very talented. The strict-but-soft Mother Superior allows a bit of deviation from rules, but the Sisters each have their own performative pasts and aspirations pushing the limits: a would-be “first ballerina nun” (Lauren Mauser’s dance experience is perfect for her role) and the singing/acting nuns with incredible range and perfect pitch. The fundraiser is a perfect opportunity for each Sister to use her gifts to raise money for an urgent need. The stellar choreography is a welcome respite from the Sisters’ usual humility.

The humor was subtle and sly. The physical comedy was very convincing and occasionally risqué. An accidental inhalation of an odiferous substance causes side-effects on the Mother Superior, rendering her incapacitated, to the secret delight of her #2, Mistress of Novices/Sister Mary Hubert. Sister Mary Hubert gladly accepts last-minute responsibility for pulling off the fund-raiser, showcasing the talents underneath the habits: singing, physical comedy, ballet, jazz and tap dancing, and witty remarks. Throw in some audience participation and it was a real party! This two-hour show does not seem to be that long. It flowed seamlessly from song to song and scene to scene. The small stage is just the backdrop to the hilarity.

This show ran through May 18, 2024. Stage Left Productions will soon be moving to Glendale, Arizona - just an FYI for you west valley theatre lovers.


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