Welcome to Saint Joseph's School in Needham, MA for the benefit show done by the 5 wacky nuns the Little Sisters of Needham in "Nunsense" the latest show at Needham Community Theatre. 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 "The Sound of Music". With that as the premise for this rip roaring smash hit musical, this production is a laugh riot from start to finish. Director/choreographer Marianne Lonati casts the five nuns perfectly in these roles and also creates some splendid dances while musical director, Josh Martin creates the marvelous harmonic blend to their vocal talents, making it one of the must see shows of the fall season.
Marianne pays close attention to every bit of business in this show, making every laugh count. She gives each character some shtick to perform and these five women do a bang up job in their roles. Marianne's dance numbers range from tap dancing to soft shoe to ballet to a conga line plus other types which the cast executes with great skill. Josh not only taught the music but is the accompanist and plays the keyboards and conducts a 4 piece combo for the show. The solos, duets, trios and group numbers are marvelous. The harmonies blend together in each number and the show receives a thunderous ovation at its close. The hilarious film for the show was created by hard working stage manager Heather Daley. The film is a take off on Gunsmoke, called Nunsmoke with Sister Regina in her undies.
The leader of these wacky nuns is veteran actress, Cathy Pitcock Corcoran. She commands the stage as Sister Regina, the Mother Superior, with her authoritative voice and presence. Cathy 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 Shelley Winters, Free Willy and others while falling down on the floor or on the stools of the set. Also comical is the cooking with the BVM scene where she says the popcorn blew the ass off the turkey. Cathy 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 with a parasol. I last reviewed her in "Seussical" back in 2005. Cathy Merlo plays Sister Hubert, the second in command. She is always ready to step up to become the head nun. Cathy handles this role with ease delivering the goods in her solo show stopping gospel number "Holier Than Thou" where she gets the audience pumped up. Her powerful jazz voice knocks their socks off. She also does a great job in "Tickle That Temptation" where she leads the nuns in a terrific tap dance while Cathy Corcoran does a Carmen Miranda impersonation with the fruit headress. Cathy Merlo does a tremendous job in her duets, "The Biggest Ain't the Best" with Sister Leo and "Coupla Sisters" with Sister Regina. In the latter number she croons like Al Jolson. Both Cathy's do a great job as the leaders of these zany nuns and obtain many laughs along the way.
The biggest scene stealers in this show are Katie Broach as Sister Amnesia and Kathleen Bousquet as Sister Robert Anne. Katie not only has a gorgeous soprano voice but is a natural born comedienne who does a topnotch 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, she uses a lower pitched voice for the puppet and her high soprano for Amnesia. Her second is "I Could Have Gone to Nashville" where she regains her memory while sounding just like a country singer. Katie has great comic timing in her ad libs and especially during the quiz segment where I won a St. Christopher's prayer for motorists. Kathleen is a hoot as the tough talking Revere born nun especially in her habit humor imitating Heidi, Attila the Nun, Cher, Twisted Sister, Sister Snooki and Princess Leia. She is also hilarious 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 go on and strut her stuff, doing a dynamic dance with a cane. Kathleen shines in her poignant number "Growing Up Catholic" which shows she can handle a ballad as well as the upbeat numbers.
Last but not least is Katharine Nedder as Sister Leo, the novice nun. She wants to be the first ballerina nun and shows off her dancing skills in "Benedicte" and in the dying nun scene. Katharine also handles the duet with Hubert, the Andrews Sisters type number with Robert and Amnesia as well as the Lilac number beautifully, too. She is only a junior in Westwood High School but shows off a strong soprano voice and topnotch acting skills. So for a fantastic evening of fun and frolic in Needham, be sure to catch these zany nuns in "Nunsense" before they dance their way out of town.