Welcome to the opening show of Bill Hanney's Theatre-by-the-Sea's 80th Anniversary season, "Nunsense" by Dan Goggin. This version is also directed by Dan Goggin. Welcome to the Mount Saint Helen's School for the benefit show done by the five wacky nuns. The nuns are doing a fundraiser to earn the money to bury the last four nuns who died from tainted stew made by the convent cook, Sister Julia Child of God. They perform the 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 with the expert eye of the show's creator, Dan Goggin. He casts these five nuns perfectly in these roles, obtaining terrific performances from them. Their expertise makes "Nunsense" one of the must see shows of the summer season.
Bill spares no expense in bringing quality theatre productions to Theatre-by-the-Sea's 80th anniversary season. The set by Barry Axtell and costumes by Marcia Zammarelli are spectacular as well as the new sound system run by Michael Hyde. Musical director Ryan Edward Wise taught the cast the lovely music and conducts a three piece combo. The harmonies blend together in each number beautifully. Choreographer Teri Gibson brings out the best in this cast. The dances include tap dance, soft shoe, ballet, conga line plus other types which the cast executes with great skill. The leader of these wacky nuns is Terry Wickline. She commands the stage as Sister Regina, the Mother Superior, with her authoritative voice and strong presence. Terry uses an Irish brogue keeps the dialogue crisp and fresh especially the hilarious "rush" scene where she sniffs a bottle of this awful smelling substance which makes her high. She makes this comic monologue work with her crazy antics and imitations of Free Willy and others while falling down on the floor from the stool of the "Grease" set. Also comical is the cooking with the BVM scene where she says the popcorn blew the ass off the turkey. Terry also does a dynamite job with her solo number called "Turn Up the Spotlight" where she tells about her tightrope walking family while strutting around with a parasol. Bambi Jones plays Sister Hubert, the second in command. Hubert is always ready to step up to become the head nun. Bambi handles this role with ease delivering the goods in her interactions with the whole cast. Her powerful jazz voice stops the show in her gospel number "Holier Than Thou". Bambi also does topnotch work in "Tickle That Temptation" where she leads the nuns in a marvelous tap dance while Terry does a Carmen Miranda impersonation with the fruit headdress. She also is terrific in her duets "The Biggest Ain't the Best" with Sister Leo and "Coupla Sisters" with Sister Regina. Both Terry and Bambi do a terrific job as the leaders of these zany nuns, obtaining many laughs along the way.
The biggest scene stealers in this show are Jeanne Tinker as Sister Amnesia and Christine Mild as Sister Robert Anne. Jeanne not only has a gorgeous soprano voice but is a natural born comedienne who does a terrific job from start to finish, leaving the audience in stitches 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, where she uses a lower pitched voice for the puppet and her high soprano for Amnesia. Her second solo is "I Could Have Gone to Nashville" where she regains her memory while sounding just like a country singer. Jeanne has topnotch comic timing in her ad-libs and especially during the quiz segment where I won a St. Christopher's prayer for motorists. Christine is a hoot as the tough talking Brooklyn born nun especially in her habit humor imitating Heidi, Nunset Boulevard, Pocahontas and Princess Leia. She displays her voice in her two comic songs, "Playing Second Fiddle" about being the understudy nun and in "I Just Want to Be a Star" when she finally gets to perform and strut her stuff, doing a dynamic dance with a red feather boa. Christine also shines in her poignant number "Growing Up Catholic" which shows she can handle a ballad as easily as the comic upbeat numbers.
Last but not least is Stephanie Wahl as Sister Leo, the novice nun who has a strong soprano voice and topnotch acting skills. She wants to be the first ballerina nun and displays her dancing skills in "Benedicte" and in the dying nun scene where she does a split. Stephanie also handles the duet with Hubert, the Andrews Sisters type number with Robert and Amnesia as well as the Lilac number beautifully, too. Opening night isn't complete without an outstanding delicious buffet supplied by Duane Crowe and his beautiful wife, Karleen's Bistro by the Sea. The sumptuous food included pasta, meatballs and home made cake to mention a few. So for a fantastic evening of fun and frolic at Matunuck, be sure to catch these wild and crazy nuns in "Nunsense" before they dance their way out of town. Tell them Tony sent you