Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Nuncrackers"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2003 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Mill River Dinner Theater's current show is "Nuncrackers", the Christmas version of Nunsense. Those nutty nuns from Mount Saint Helen's Convent are at it again. They are filming a Christmas special for Cable Access TV, built in the basement of the Convent with the prize money won in a previous show. It's supposed to be a live version of the ballet The Nutcracker, but in usual Nunsense style, the lead dancer gets injured so the nuns have to come up with other entertainment for the audience. This excellent cast consists of four wacky nuns, one daffy priest and 4 talented young girls expertly directed by Chuck PetitBon, musically directed by David D'Amico and choreographed by Don Gillis. They all make this a most pleasing and fun filled holiday alternative to Christmas Carol.

Chuck casts and directs his 9 performers skillfully and David always gets the best vocals from his cast while also playing keyboard for the show. Don Gillis' choreography shines in many of the scenes expecially in the ballet sequence which is hilarious. (The nuns wear tutus on top of their nun's habits.) He also does a great job in the Andrews sister dance, the Village People song, "In The Convent" and the group numbers. The four kids do an excellent job with the dance steps especially the soft shoe to "Everett the Evergreen" song. The trio's teamwork flows through the show to make it a success.

Judy Zaborowski plays Reverend Mother, Sister Regina perfectly. Her Irish brogue is impeccable and her solo, "Old Time Carnival Christmas" about spending the holiday with Sophie Tucker, is a riot. (It is a vaudeville type number.) Judy's bossy and demanding head of the convent shows her acting ability in the scenes with the whole cast. Her funniest scenes are the ballet when she enters as the sugar plum fairy and the Catholic Shopping network Christmas items she tries to sell. Judy leads the group in the opening and closing song, "Christmas time is Nunsense time" so the audience knows exactly what they are in for. Her comic foil in this show is Sister Leo"s brother, Father Virgil played wonderfully by Paul Oliver. He is hysterical as Sister Julia in drag trying to make a fruitcake and ending up drinking most of the rum instead of putting it into the cake. He also is in drag for the ballet number when he competes with Regina as the sugar plum fairy. Paul who has a strong temor voice also has a touching ballad which he sings to little Siara Padilla to try to cheer her up called "Special Gifts". Regina's second in command, Sister Hubert is played by Diane Petit. She is a whirlwind trying to keep the show going while things are going crazy. Diane's strong voice shines in the gospel song, "It's Better to Give Than Receive" which brings down the house. She does a great job in the role and sings harmony in the various duets and trios during the show.

Dawn Boukari as Sister Robert Anne and Heather Carey as Sister Amnesia are a hoots. Dawn uses a Brooklyn accent as the tough nun but shows off a beautiful soprano singing voice in her "Midnight Clear" number when she reminisces about her father returning home during a Christmas pageant at church as well as in her "One Night Stand" song where she wants to perform at Carneige Hall. Heather's off center country singing nun hands out the secret Santa gifts, sings "Santa Ain't Comin' to Our House" backed up by three other nuns(She yodels in this number) and keeps screwing up the words to various carols, "As We go a Waffling", "Holly and Ivory" and using leopards instead of shephards in "The First Noel". The cast also leads the audience in a singalong to "We WIsh You Peace on Earth". The four young girls, Tiffany Lenehan, Amanda Garcia, Emily Maher and Siara Padilla , deserve a round of applause for their splendid work in this show. They not only have great voices but show off good acting ability and strong dance talents, too. So for a fabulous night of dinnertainment be sure to catch "Nuncrackers". It will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit.

"Nuncrackers" (14 November - 21 December)
1 (401)721-0909

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide