Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nunsense"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2001 by Tony Annicone

"Nunsense"

Tony Annicone

The Laurel Tree Players of New Bedford's 11th fundraising production for Holy Family-Holy Name school is the rip roaring smash hit, "Nunsense". Director Maurice Ouellette casts the five nuns, the Little Sisters of Hoboken, at the Mt. St. Helen's School perfectly making it a must see show.

Maurice pays close attention to every detail of this show. From the costumes to the set to the lighting to the sound, this show rivals many professional versions of "Nunsense" I have seen. The nuns are body miked so you can hear all the intricate lyrics and lines clearly. These five actresses act up a storm and they sing and dance wonderfully, too. Maurice is assisted by musical director, Teresa Ouellette who makes the harmonies and solos soar in this show. His choreographer, Lynne-Marie Dandeneau, does double duty playing Amnesia as well as teaching all the dance numbers including tap,ballet and time step. Ken Almeida plays Brother Michael who adds to the night's levity by his adlibs and comments to the nuns during the show. Great work by all these talented people.

The leader of these five zany nuns is veteran actress, Sue Staniunas. She plays the Irish speaking, Sister Regina, the Mother Superior. Sue commands the stage not only with her dialogue but does outstanding work in the comic "rush" where she gets high.She makes this comic monologue work with her many funny and varied antics and imitations. Her two solo numbers, "Turn Up the Spotlight" number done with Gypsy Rose Lee fans and the show stopping bluesy number "Holier Than Thou" are fantastic. Sue is a talented actress who can handle any role she is given.

The second in command, Sister Hubert, is played by Erica Borges. She has a good rapport with the other nuns while showing she is always ready to take over the convent when Regina falters. Erica handles her solos in the time step and lilac numbers and her duets in "The Biggest Isn't Best and "Coupla Sisters" songs wonderfully, too.

The biggest scene stealers in this show are Amy Thompson as Sister Robert Anne and Lynne-Marie Dandeneau as Sister Amnesia. Amy not only makes the audience laugh in her fabulous habit humor imitating Heidi, Attila the Nun and Katherine Hepburn but also in her "Playing Second Fiddle", being the understudy who might never go on and the "I Just Want To Be a Star" song where she struts her talent at finally doing her thing in a red spotlight and sparkling lights on her habit. Amy also sabatoges the slide show with a photo of Regina in her undies! What a hoot! She shows her versatility by handling the dramatic ballad, "Growing Up Catholic". A great all around performer who can dance, too.

Lynne does an excellent job as Amnesia from start to finish. She is a multi-talented performer who keeps the audience in stitches all evening long. Lynne has a magnificent soprano voice which she uses with her puppet, Sister Mary Annette in "So You Want To Be a Nun" (Lynne never moved her lips while doing the puppet routine and uses her lower singing register for Annette) and in "I Could've Gone to Nashville" where she finally remembers who she is, Sister Mary Paul. She has great timing in her adlibs and in the scripted lines. Great job in the show and as choreographer.

Last but not least is the novice nun, Sister Leo played by Anne Marie Vardo. She wants to be a ballerina nun and shows her dancing in "Benedicte" and in the comic Dying nun scene. Not only can Anne dance she sings beautifully in the duet with Hubert and in the Lilac song as well as the ensemble numbers. Kudos to the cast, crew and outstanding orchestra, Mary Thornhill, David Arruda, Michael Monty, David Gries and Joe Amaral. A word of praise to David Borges, the stage manager who keeps the show running smoothly. Have a wonderful run.

"Nunsense" (till 25 March)
THE LAUREL TREE PLAYERS
Holy Family Holy Name School / 91 Summer Street, NEW BEDFORD
1(508) 993-3547

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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