Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Catholic School Girls"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Catholic School Girls"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Little Theatre of Fall River is "Catholic School Girls". The show originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1982. The show is a satire of Catholic school life in the 1960's It tells the story of four Catholic schoolgirls coming of age from 1962 to 1970 at St. George's School in Yonkers, NY. The four actresses play the girls from first day of first grade through the last day of eighth grade and they grow older during the episodic course of the show. The scenes generally take place in the classroom where the mostly strict nuns who are also played by the same actresses, chide and lecture sinisterly about sin. As they experience bonds of friendship, reprimands from authority figures and pressures from home and they react to the Beatles, "I Love Lucy", the Supremes and the election of a Catholic president, an amusing portrait of girls maturing to adolescence delightfully emerges. There are also comic as well as poignant monologues from each of the girls that delve more deeply into their lives. This splendid production is well directed by Betty Teixeira who picked the four best actresses for each of these double roles, giving the audience a look back at the turbulent 1960's through the eyes of these girls.

Stage manager Maryann Goulart keeps things running smoothly all night long. The gorgeous unit set of Church, classroom and pay phone is by Betty. She has her actresses delve into each of these characters. The time periods covered in the show include first grade, second grade and first Holy Communion, fourth grade, sixth grade, eighth grade and the Spring flowers dance as well as the last day of eighth grade. These four actresses make the transition from schoolgirl to teacher with ease. Lynne Dandeneau as the faith-fleeing Elizabeth, Cheryl Field, as the smart and spoiled Polish, Wanda, Katie van der Sleesen as the bossy Colleen and Rosemary Riley as the not too bright and timid Italian, Maria Theresa are all excellent in these roles. They all shine in their monologues with Lynne having 3 separate ones, the first explaining how to bow your head when you say Jesus, the second where she is angry with God for her grandmother's death and renounces her Catholic religion and the last where she looks back on her school days. The one where she renounces God is stunning and poignant. She handles the different tone of each of them with ease as do the others. Cheryl's monologue is about becoming famous and appearing on Ed Sullivan, Rosemary's is about being adopted by Donna Reed and Colleen's is about getting her "friend'' in sixth grade and being embarrassed by her mean nun. The latter one is very emotional and moving. These performers also handle the teacher roles wonderfully. Lynne also plays the strict Sister Thomasina in fourth grade, while Rosemary is Sister Germaine in sixth who is concerned with the girl's health class, handing out sanitary napkins which got the biggest laugh of the night. The seemingly ancient and addled Sister Agnes is played by Cheryl who is their first grade teacher and who finally helps Elizabeth find her faith in the eighth grade while Colleen is hilarious as the most vicious of the nuns, Sister Lucille. She runs roughshod over the girls in the second grade and appears as their eighth grade teacher to torture them again. Her Irish brogue is perfect and her demeaning of the girls is, too. Sister Lucille's tongue lashing of her students is very realistic. So for a trip back to the 1960's with music from the era played before the show and during the scene changes, be sure to catch "Catholic School Girls" in Fall River.

"Catholic School Girls" (18 - 28 August)
LITTLE THEATRE OF FALL RIVER
@ The Fire Barn, Prospect Street, FALL RIVER MA
1(508)675-1872

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |