Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nunsense"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"Nunsense"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Welcome to Mount Saint Helen's School in Hoboken, NJ for the benefit show done by the 5 zany nuns in "Nunsense" the latest show at The Granite Theatre. The nuns are raising money to bury the last four nuns who died from tainted stew made by Sister Julia Child of God. They perform their show on the set for the 8th Grade show "Grease" With that as the premise for this rip roaring smash hit musical, this production is a laugh riot from start to finish. Director Gary Sullivan casts the five nuns perfectly in these roles while musical director, Ron Procopio creates the gorgeous harmonic blend to their vocal talents while choreographer, Chris Mahn creates splendid dance numbers, making this a high energy show that soars with its topnotch production values. It also receives a standing ovation, making it one of the must see shows of this season.

Gary pays close attention to every bit of business in this show, making every laugh count. He gives each character some shtick to perform and these woman do a bang up job in their roles. Ron not only taught the music but is the accompanist and plays the role of Brother Michael in the show. The solos, duets, trios and group numbers are outstanding. The harmonies blend together perfectly in every number. Ron's son, Buddy is the percussionist and is as talented as his dad with his musical ability. The dance numbers choreographed by Chris range from tap dancing to soft shoe to a conga line plus many others that the cast executes with great skill. The show is polished to perfection on opening night proving its prowess by the laughter and applause of the audience.

The leader of these wacky nuns is veteran actress for 45 years, Jane Fierstein. She commands the stage as Sister Regina, the Mother Superior, with her authoritative voice and presence. Jane keeps the dialogue crisp and fresh especially in the hilarious "rush" scene where she sniffs a bottle of this awful smelling substance which makes her high. Jane makes this comic monologue work with her crazy antics and imitations of Shelley Winters, Orca and others while falling down on the floor and on the stools of the set. She also does a dynamite job in her solo number called "Turn Up The Spotlight" where she tells about her tightrope walking family while strutting around like Gypsy Rose Lee with two red fanlike feathers. Sue Staniunas plays Sister Hubert, the second in command. She is always ready to step up to become the head nun. Sue handles this role with ease delivering the goods in her solo show stopping gospel number "Holier Than Thou" as well as in her duets, "The Biggest Isn't Best" and "Coupla Sisters". She and Jane do a great job as the leaders of these zany nuns and get many laughs along the way.

The biggest scene stealers is this show are Diana Blanda as Sister Amnesia and Christine Pescatello as Sister Robert Anne. Diana not only has a gorgeous soprano voice but she is a natural born comedienne who does an excellent job in this role from start to finish, leaving the audience in stiches all night long. Her two solos are hilarious. The first is "So You Want To Be a Nun" which she does with her puppet, Sister Mary Annette and the second is "I Coulda Gone to Nashville" where she regains her memory while sounding just like a country singer. Diana has great comic timing in her adlibs and with the other performers, too. Christine is a hoot as the tough talking Brooklyn born nun especially in her habit humor imitating Heidi, Attila the Nun and Katherine Hepburn but also in two comic songs "Playing Second Fiddle" about being the understudy and in "I Just Want To Be A Star" when she finally gets to go on as well as sabatoging the slide show with a photo of Regins in her undies. Christine handles the pretty ballad "Growing Up Catholic" showing she can handle a serious number, too.

Last but not least is Chelsea McLaughlin as Sister Leo, the novice nun. She wants to be the first ballerina nun and shows her dancing skills in "Benedicte" and in the comic dying nun scene. She also handles the duet with Hubert and the lilac number beautifully, too. Judy Staelens not only stage manages the show but gets to play Sister Joseph who warms up the audience before the show while Morgan Ban Draoi executes the lighting and sound cues with ease and David Jepson designed the perfect "Grease" set for this show. So for a fantastic production of "Nunsense" be sure to catch it in Westerly before time runs out.

"Nunsense" ( 21 October - 21 November)
GRANITE THEATRE
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY, RI
1 (401) 596-2341

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