Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nunsense"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Footlights Repertory Theatre's ninth show 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 sisters accidentally poisoned by the convent cook, Sister Julia Child of God. The nuns sing and dance their way into the hearts of the audience with their clever and witty lines and dialogue. Director Bruce Lackey infuses the show with the energy needed while music director Alex Tirrell plays the keyboards while doing banter with the cast members while choreographer Jen Bellanti supplies the terrific dance moves for these women.. Bruce picks five talented women to fill these roles to provide a wonderful evening of entertainment for a very appreciative audience.

Bruce blocks the nuns and does the musical staging beautifully. He has them walk into the audience in several scenes, making the audience a part of the show. Bruce adds a Portuguese speaking nun to the show Sister Mary Filomina played by Vanessa Medeiros. She is a hoot in the popcorn stuffing scene blowing the ass off the turkey and in drawing the raffle tickets at intermission. Choreography is by Jen and includes a kick line,tap, Charleston and soft shoe to name a few. Alex not only musically directs the show but supplies the marvelous accompaniment on the keyboards to the numbers with his 3 person combo including Janelle Rousell on drums and Joyce Harrington on woodwinds. He achieves a superb harmonic balance of the cast in the duets, trios and group numbers. The Grease set needed for this show is by Bill Camara . Playing Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior is veteran actress Sue Staniunas who commands the stage as the authority figure. She has a topnotch Irish brogue and does a very funny tight rope walking imitation in "Turn Up the Spotlight" while holding two sets of ostrich feathers. Sue obtains many laughs during her Rush scene where she sniffs this bottle and gets high from it. She also does imitations of Shelley Winters, free willy and does a great job in cooking with the BVM scene where she has many funny one liners. The second in command, Sister Hubert is played by Jessica Gates Chabot. She has some comical scenes where she insults Sister Regina and they sing a comic duet called "Just a Coupl'a Sisters". Jessica belts out this song and leads the girls in a fantastic tap dance in "Tackle That Temptation with a Time Step" but it is the 11th hour number of the show called "Holier Than Thou" that shows off her topnotch gospel and scat voice which brings down the house. Jessica comes into the audience urging them to clap their hands and shout Amen during this song which wins her thunderous applause.

Two of the zaniest nuns in this show are Jennifer Morin as Sister Robert Anne and Valerie Seney as Sister Amnesia. Jennifer is a hoot with her habit humor where she imitates Margaret Hamilton, Heidi, Pippi Longstocking, Princess Leia and Katherine Hepburn. She also sells her three songs, "Playing Second Fiddle" where she complains about 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 get to strut her stuff for the audience. Valerie keeps the crowd in stitches as the forgetful nun who has lost her memory. She is hilarious in "So You Want to be a Nun" number which she does with her puppet Sister Mary Annette, while alternating her soprano voice with a lower voice for the puppet and does both voices extremely well. Her strong lovely soprano voice soars off the charts in this song. Luckily she remembers who she is during her "I Could've Gone to Nashville" song and helps save the nun's fundraiser from being ruined. Valerie also does a great job with the quiz about their order where I won a St. Christopher's prayer and medal for motorists. Rounding out the cast is Tricia Rodrigues who plays Sister Leo, the novice who wants to be a ballerina nun. She does an excellent ballet to "Benedicite" and gets to show off a comic dance in the Dying Nun ballet. Tricia shows off lovely voice in "The Biggest Ain't the Best" with Hubert and her acting skills shine in this role too. Jennifer, Valerie,and Tricia also do a marvelous Andrews Sisters type number in "Drive In" in perfect three part harmony. So for a terrific show and a fun filled visit with wacky nuns in their old habits, be sure to catch "Nunsense" at Footlights Repertory Company.

"Nunsense" (17 - 20 November)
@ Fairhaven Town Hall, 40 Center Street, FAIRHAVEN MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide