Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nuncrackers"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"Nuncrackers"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony Productions current show is "Nuncrackers", the Nunsense Christmas Musical. The wacky nuns from Mount Saint Helen's convent in Hoboken, NJ are filming a Christmas special for Cable Access TV in a studio built in the basement of the convent. They built it with the money they won in the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes from their first show. The show they have chosen is a live version of the "Nutcracker Ballet" but in typical Nunsense fashion, the lead dancer, Sister Leo gets injured so the nuns have to come up with another plan. This excellent cast consists of five nutty nun, one daffy priest and 4 talented children expertly directed and choreographed by Dori Bryan as well as musically directed by Rob Goldman. This high energy show is a blast to watch from start to finish and is the perfect way to usher in this festive time of the year.

Dori's direction and choreography is splendid. She infuses her cast with the exuberance needed for each of this roles. Dori's addition of the Slo-mo scene where the nuns win the lottery is very humorous. The dance numbers include wonderful ballet moves, jive dancing, a Village People dance and an Andrews sister dance. Not only do the adults do a great job with the dances but the four children excel in them, too. Rob not only music directs this show with his keen eye for choosing topnotch vocalists but he conducts the Mount Saint Helen's Band which is onstage throughout the entire show. He plays the keyboards as Rabbi Goldman clad in Orthodox attire. The numerous costumes and sets are by Daniel Kozar. The set contains a scrim with snowflakes and other Christmas decorations and scenery projected on it. Technical director and lighting designer, Michael Teixiera keeps the show running smoothly with the scene changes while the sound design by Ed DiMarzio and the props by Gail Gilman are excellent, too. The teamwork of these people flows through the show, making it a smashing success. Mary Beth Murphy plays Reverend Mother, Sister Regina perfectly. Her Irish brogue is wonderful and her solo which is a vaudeville type number, "Carnival Christmas" about spending the holiday with Sophie Tucker, is a riot. Her sexy, sultry voice when she tries to sell the Nunsense perfume and mouthwash during the Catholic Shopping network segment is hilarious. Mary Beth is a superb dancer, appearing in the group numbers as well as the very funny Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker dance. Her comic foil in the show is Sister Leo's brother, Father Virgil played excellently by Nathan Lamont. He is hysterical as Sister Julia in drag as he teaches the audience how to make a fruitcake with plastic fruit and by ending up drinking most of the rum for it. Nathan's imitation of Julia Child is a hoot, too. He remains in drag as the Sugar Plum Fairy and competes with Regina to see who will be the best one to pull it off, ending in hilarity. Nathan also gets to show off his wonderful singing voice in a poignant ballad, "The Christmas Box" which he sings to comfort Maria played by Melanie Roth. The second in command of the convent, Sister Hubert is played by Kelly Cavanaugh. She uses a Southern accent and gets to show off her gorgeous soprano voice throughout the show in various duets, trios and group numbers. Kelly brings down the house with her powerful gospel number called "It's Better to Give" where she sings scat and jazz.

Two of the biggest adult scene stealers in this show are Chrissy McCartney as Sister Robert Anne and Katherine Joy as Sister Amnesia. Chrissy uses a Brooklyn accent as this tough nun but gets to show off her softer side in "Jesus Was Born in Brooklyn" when she reminisces about her father returning home during a Christmas pageant at church. (Wonderful tableau of this scene is done by the whole cast behind her.) She also does a dynamite job on her belting song, "All I Want for Christmas" where Robert Anne wants to perform at Carneige Hall. Katherine's daffy country singing nun hands out the secret Santa gifts, sings "Santa Ain't Coming to Our House" with 3 back up singers while yodeling and keeps screwing up the children's carols, "As We go A-Waffling, Holly and Ivory and using leopards instead of shepherds in "The First Noel". Other funny numbers include "In the Convent" done like the Village People's "In the Navy" and an Andrews Sisters number called "We Three Kings". The four scene stealing children in the show are Ben Hirsch, Ellen Kunkel, Melanie Roth and Andrew Purdy. These kids not only act and sing wonderfully but they dance superbly, too. Ben and Ellen do a ballet dance in "The Cat's Away" song while all four of them do another ballet type dance in "Santa's Little Teapot". Melanie's ballet is done during "The Christmas Box" song while all four of them appear in the Nutcracker dance with Andrew who is only eight years old as the Prince who fights off Ellen as the mouse King. Their jive and jazz dance with the adults in Kelly's gospel number is a hoot, too. Also pretty is "Christmas Sing-a-Long" number which includes Sami Mandeville who plays the injured Sister Leo in this show. So for a splendid Christmas show, be sure to catch this fabulous rendition of "Nuncrackers" at the Orpheum Theatre in Foxboro. It will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit.

"Nuncrackers" (8 - 17 December)
BAY COLONY PRODUCTIONS
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508)543-ARTS

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