Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nunsense"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Nunsense"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Next Door Theater in Winchester is Dan Goggin's "Nunsense". The show is about five zany nuns, the little Sisters of Hoboken who are putting on a fundraiser to raise money to bury 52 sisters accidentally poisoned by the convent cook, Sister Julia Child of God. The sisters decide that the best way to raise the money is to put on a variety show, so they take over the school auditorium which is currently set up for the eighth grade production of "Grease". The nuns sing and dance their way into the hearts of the audience with their clever and witty lines and dialogue. Director Nancy Curran Willis infuses the show with the energy needed while musical director John Henry Burns plays the keyboards and Caylin Campbell choreographs the show. Nancy chooses five talented women to fill these roles to provide a wonderful evening of entertainment for a very appreciative audience.

Nancy blocks the nuns beautifully with each of the different scenes and gives each of them their moment to shine in this show. She has them walk into the audience in several scenes to interact with the audience, making them a part of the show. John taught the gorgeous harmonies of the duets, trios and group numbers and makes the nuns sound wonderful. Some of Caylin's dances include tap, a time step, doo-wop, Charleston and a comic ballet scene. Caylin is also Performance company director while Brian Milauskas is the Artistic producing director. Playing Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior is veteran actress Shana Dirik who commands the stage as the authority figure and has a wonderful Irish brogue. She has a fabulous soprano voice which soars in the group numbers. Regina was a former circus performer and she does a very funny tight rope walking imitation in "Turn Up the Spotlight". Shana obtains many laughs during her Rush scene when she sniffs this bottle and gets high from it.She also does a great job in the Cooking with the BVM scene where she has many funny one-liners. One of her funny one liners includes calling the eighth grade show Vaseline instead of "Grease". She ends up dressed up as Carmen Miranda with a fruit headdress and maracas at the end of Act 1 to "Turn Up the Spotlight'. The second in command, Sister Hubert, the Mistress of the Novices, is played by Aimee Doherty. She is dynamic onstage and has some funny scenes with Regina where she constantly insults her and they have a comic duet called "Just a Couple of Sisters". She has a duet with Sister Leo called "The Biggest Ain't the Best" as well as making fun of her name "Hubert". But it is the 11th hour number of the show which brings down the house "Holier Than Thou". Aimee's dynamite voice sells this gospel song which mentions many saints who the nuns sing about. She coaxes the crowd into singing with them, too.

Two of the zaniest nuns in this show are Robert Ann and Amnesia. The streetwise nun from Brooklyn, is played by Meredith Stypinski. She is a hoot with her habit humor. imitates Attila, the nun, Heidi, Pippi Longstocking, Princess Leia and Katherine Hepburn. She also sells her three songs wonderfully, "Playing Second Fiddle" where she sings about always being the understudy nun, "Growing Up Catholic" where she tells about her tough childhood in Brooklyn and "I Just Wanna Be a Star" where she finally gets to strut her stuff for the audience. Sarajane Mullins keeps the crowd in stitches as Amnesia, the nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head. She is hilarious in "So You Want to Be A Nun" number which she does with her puppet, Sister Mary Annette. Sarajane does two different voices in this song so you can tell who is who. Luckily she remembers who she is during her "I Could Have Gone to Nashville" song and helps save the nun's fundraiser from being ruined. Sarajane also does a great job with the quiz about their order where I won a St. Christopher's prayer for motorists. She is also the associate producing director for the group. Rounding out this cast is Caylin Campbell as Sister Mary Leo, the novice who wants to be a ballerina nun. She does a topnotch ballet to "Benedicite" and gets to show off a comic dance in the Dying Nun ballet where she pretends to choke to death on the poisoned stew. She, Robert and Amnesia do a gorgeous Andrews Sister song with three part harmony called "The Drive In" where they show a comic movie called Nunsmoke with all the nuns in funny photos and with Regina in a compromising pose as a tightrope walker in her undies. So for a fabulous rendition of this well known show, be sure to catch "Nunsense" in Winchester before time runs out.

"Nunsense" (29 July - 6 August)
NEXT DOOR THEATRE
@ 40 Cross Street, WINCHESTER MA
1(781)729-NEXT

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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