Friday, December 16, 2011

RCT's "Nunsense" is a habit you don't want to kick

Olivia Damore, Christine Cieplinski, Erin Stevens, Linda Kauffman, and Ellen Bryan in "Nunsense"
 By Cheryl Thornburg
  No matter how many times I see "Nunsense" -- it never gets old. The jokes make me laugh, the music makes my toes tap and sometimes -- my hands clap.
  Such is the case with Reading Civic Theatre's current production running this weekend only at Alvernia University.
  Director Debbi Silas has assembled a great group of singing and dancing "nuns" to bring this irreverent and outrageously funny musical comedy by Dan Goggins to Reading-area theater lovers.
  Each of the Little Sisters of Hoboken gets to showcase her talent in a variety show to raise money for the burial of the last four of 52 sisters who died when the convent cook, Sister Julia (Child of God)  accidentally served bad vichyssoise. They are temporarily being stored in the convent freezer.
   Linda Kauffman proves she's a fine comedic actress as the Reverend Mother, particularly in the scene where she accidentally tries out a substance found at the school and finds a "higher" calling.
  Christine Cieplinski gets to deliver my favorite number in this show as Sister Mary Hubert, the convent's Mistress of Novices. With every powerful chorus of  "Holier Than Thou," she pumps up the audience with this hand-clapping foot-stomping revival-style number that sticks in your head for hours after you leave the theater.
  Another favorite of mine is Sister Robert Anne, the nun from Brooklyn whose antics keep the convent (and the audience) laughing. Ellen Bryan's Sister Robert Anne is a double delight -- she shows off her softer side in the ballad, "Growing Up Catholic" and her brash street-wise side in the spunky "I Just Want To Be A Star."
   Olivia Damore brings a sweet innocence to her Sister Mary Amnesia, the nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head.  She demonstrates great comedic and vocal skills in the segment "So You Want To Be A Nun" with her alter ego, a ventriloquist's dummy, Sister Mary Annette. She also shines in "I Could've Gone To Nashville" when she finally remembers her name.
  As Sister Mary Leo, Erin Stevens is delightful as the nun who dreams of being a ballerina. Once you've seen her interpretation of "The Dying Nun," you won't forget it.
  Rounding out the cast is Danelle Wagner as the Stage Manager/ Nun.
  Silas was assisted by Jeannette DeAngelo, who also choreographed, and music director, Kevin Cooper.
   With songs titled "Nunsense Is Habit-Forming," "We've Got To Clean Out The Freezer"  and "Drive-In" by the Saint Andrew's Sisters," it's easy to tell that this show is filled with one over-the-top, laugh-inducing  number after  another.  It's "nun-stop" fun -- if you'll pardon the pun.
  This review is based on Thursday's dress rehearsal, which had some minor technicalities that had to be tweaked, but there is no doubt that this weekend's performances will be heavenly and hilarious.
  The show opens today, December 16 at 8 p.m. at the Francis Hall Theatre at Alvernia University and runs Saturday, December 17 at 2 p.m and 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 18 at 3 p.m.  Tickets are $28 and seniors $25.   

For ticket information call 610-373-3311 or go to

Here's  a sample from the production:

For up-to date info on area theater happenings, auditions and reviews, follow me on Twitter at MercArtsCheryl


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