Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nunsense"

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Reviews of Current Productions


entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


"Nunsense"


Book, Music and Lyrics by Dan Goggin
Directed and Choreographed by Don Gillis
Musical Director Stephen DeCesare

Set Design by Victor Turenne
Costume Coordinator Lolly Hakeem
Lighting Design by Paul Larochelle
Sound Technician J. Robert Leclair
Stage Manager Nishan Lawton

Sister Mary Regina (Mother Superior)..........Carold Varden
Sister Mary Hubert (Mistress of Novices)...Jane Bouchard
Sister Robert Anne.........................................Kathy Donahue
Sister Mary Amnesia..........................Lisa Johnson-Oliviere
Sister Mary Leo...........................................Aimee Bouchard

Piano.................Stephen DeCesare
Keyboards..............Loren Mitchell
Drums........................Peter Jeffrey


In its seventy-seventh season, The Community Players is doing "Nunsense" for its 282nd production. Director-Choreographer Don Gillis has been a part of the company for twenty-three years, and Producer and reluctant President of the Board of Governors Peter Babiec admits to being involved for "Oh, twenty years, or so." The 300-seat Jenks Junior High School Auditorium in Pawtucket is their relatively new home, but the enthusiasm and dedication of at least two generations of theater buffs is still what keeps this company going.

Jane Bouchard, playing the repressed second-banana Sister Mary Hubert, is the mother of Aimee Bouchard, whose perfectly pointed pink ballet-slippers perform the hilarious "Dying Nun" under the habit of Sister Mary Leo. And Carol Varden played top-banana Sister Mary Regina in three other productions before this one. Apparently, theater is in their blood.

Dan Goggins' musical is is a variety show supposedly presented by the surviving teachers of Mount St. Helen's Parochial School --- The Little Sisters of Hoboken. (In fact, Kathy Donahue's eager understudy Sister Robert Anne affects a creditable "Joisey eaccent" in addition to handling the show's only two serious songs.) The show is full of irreverent quips and satirical send-ups of Catholicity, Catholics, parochial school autocracies, and the vicissitudes of amateur theatricals generally. Groggins' humor is a broad blunderbus from which no target can be safe, and the plot and its details wouldn't be believed if recounted.

There's Lisa Johnson-Oliviere's Sister Amnesia, for instance, who had an unfortunate collision with a falling crucifix. Her wide, toothy grin and wide, uncertain eyes make every long pause suggest she may not remember what should come next. And what happens when Mother Superior takes an experimental sniff at the angel-dust that turned up in the girls' locker-room has to be seen to be believed.

Don Gillis, after a career as choreographer and dancer for The Community Players, provides a wide variety of tap-routines, kick-lines and high-steps --- as well as that "Dying Nun" --- that are delightfully incongruous under those black and white habits. And his cast digs back to their undergraduate days, for instance, to begin the performance by patrolling the audience to search out skirts too short to be proper.

"Nunsense" is as loose and roomy as any nun's habit, and as monochromatic. It's what everyone puts into it that makes it such a crowd-pleaser. And you don't have to be Catholic --- though it helps.

Love,
===Anon.
(a k a Larry Stark)

"Nunsense" (till 23 November)
THE COMMUNITY PLAYERS OF PAWTUCKET
Jenks Junior High School Auditorium, 151 Division Street, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1(401)726-6860

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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