Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Want some fun? Get thee to a nunnery at Tr-PAC's 'Nunsense'

By Cheryl Thornburg
As the opening number in “Nunsense” says, “Nunsense is Habit Forming” and this is one habit you won't want to kick. I can attest to that – I've seen this show in various incarnations at least four times and it always makes me laugh and leave the theater in a great mood.
Tri-PAC's production features a talented cast who bring to life the zany nuns of the Little Sisters of Hoboken nunnery.
The premise is outrageous – and hilarious. The nunnery cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, has accidentally killed off the majority of the sisters at the convent with a tainted vichyssoise and the remaining nuns have run out of funds to bury them all – they've stored four of them in the convent freezer as they try to raise the money for their burial.
In order to do that, they're putting on a talent show featuring five of the sisters who present some of the funniest and “punniest” routines in the history of musical comedy.
You don't have to be Catholic to understand and enjoy the broad, sometimes bordering on bawdy, humor of this show.

Donna Dougherty as Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior of the nunnery, has mastered that stern accusatory look that has stopped students and wayward parishioners in their tracks. Her comedic skills are first rate and her vocal talent is showcased in “Turn Up the Spotlight” and a duet, “Just a Coupl'a Sisters,” with Sister Mary Hubert.

Alicia Huppman delivers an over-the-top Sister Mary Hubert with a gleem in her eye and a powerful voice that is featured in some of the show's most memorable numbers including “The Biggest Ain't the Best” and the rollicking, hand-clapping “Holier Than Thou” in the second act. The latter is the number that may stick in your head when you leave the theater.

Raina Frey Murdock seems to have been born to play Sister Robert Anne, the street-wise, wise-cracking born-in Brooklyn nun, who has a passion for the stage. Murdock stays in character every second as she interacts with the audience before and during the show. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her delivery of “I Just Want to Be a Star,” is spot on.

Rebecca Shoemaker also seems perfect for her role as Sister Mary Amnesia, the wide-eyed, naïve nun who can't remember who she is because of an accident when a crucifix fell on her head. Shoemaker demonstrates considerable comedic skill throughout, but shines in the skit “the Quiz.” She gets to show off her vocal talent in “I Could've Gone to Nashville” in the second act.

Rounding out the cast is a novice, Jordan Shoemaker, a sophomore at Pottsgrove High School, who plays Sister Mary Leo, a novice at the convent who loves to dance. She gets to show off her dancing skills in several numbers, but is memorable as “The Dying Nun,” that also showcases her flair for comedy. She;s also a singing nun, as she shows in “Benedicte” and “The Biggest Ain't the Best”

Put all five together and you get great harmony, comedy and a laugh-filled night out.

Be forewarned – you may not be able to sit back and enjoy this show – you might become a part of it – as the nuns chat with and sometimes chastise the audience. It's all in good fun and will probably be one of your favorite nights at the theater.
The show is directed by Christine Cieplinski. Julie Eurillo is musical director.

Nunsense” continues Thursdays through Sundays through May 15 at the Tr-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High St. in Pottstown. Tickets
ADULT: Thurs $15; Fri, Sat & Sun $17
STUDENT/SENIOR(65+): Thurs $13; Fri, Sat, Sun $15
CHILD (12 & under): Thurs $11; Fri, Sat & Sun $13
For more information go to
www.tripac.org or call 610-970-1199.


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