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Nunsense

Anchorage Community Theatre
presents

 

Dan Goggin’s

NUNSENSE

 

Runs April 26 – May 19, 2013

Reviewed by Robert Pond

Nunsense is vintage community theatre fare.  It’s a musical comedy that lies somewhere between vaudeville and a musical variety show. There are no issues that are presented as serious; therefore, the show is ideal escapism.  Nunsense is a show that doesn’t usually fail; and certainly, ACT has successfully produced this as fun entertainment.  It has the songs, a bit of ballet, tap dancing, some slapstick, and comedic gag dialogue.  If you have any Catholic background or awareness of the life, it might give you a slight edge in appreciating the show.  From those of us who were in parochial schools back in the day, ‘the stories we could tell’.

As revealed in the play, Nunsense originated as a project through a line of greeting cards with off the cuff humor, which were hugely successful. From the cards, author Dan Goggin created a cabaret show, which then developed into a 10 year run as an Off Broadway musical.  Besides the road companies, there are five sequels and more to come.   Nunsense may have even influenced the Sister Act films and you might detect a hint of Arsenic and Old Lace in this not so parochial show. The show doesn’t need a lot of dialogue scenes as the 18 or so songs carry what most of you might want to know. The songs have that show-stopping Broadway structure that evolved after the Rogers and Hammerstein era and you may even occasionally detect a little of the Gilbert and Sullivan talk-sing.

In the show, several nuns from the order of Little Sisters of Hoboken have been mistakenly killed by poison in the soup.  The success of the greeting cards was supposed to pay for the funerals.  All except four have been buried.  Having spent too much of the greeting card profits on flat screens and the like; the five surviving nuns have to deal with providing funerals for the four nuns still on ice.  It seems gruesome, but the adventures and misadventures of the bumbling five nuns will make it all right.

ACT has clearly scored a success.  Nunsense looks so well prepared.  It may be among the few shows to set its performance level so early in its run.  It is well directed and the pace of the production is nearly without flaw. The blurred interaction with the audience made more logistical sense than providing entertainment. Brian Saylors’ scenic setting makes good use of ACT’s particular space.  The gym-like overhead lighting and the basketball nets provide a good touch. The choreography by Vivian Melde has imagination, as does the tap number choreographed by Valerie Thurston.  The vocal music, for the nuns, was well prepared by Nancy Caudill.  Jane Henriksen Baird is one of Anchorage’s better character actors and she is a delight as the Reverend Mother. Kelly Wilson playing Sister Amnesia is one of the more experienced singing voices on the stage and she also holds her character well. AnnaKate Williams is an engaging actor and we find that she is also talented in dance; both talents tend to overshadow her singing. Paige Langit as Sister Hubert and Roxanne Anjelica Garcia as Sister Robert Ann are both as entertaining as they are outrageous. Cathleen McLaughlin, on the keyboard, and percussionist Corliss Kimmel provided the music and they also interacted with the cast during the performance, a credit to director Don Gomes’ directorial design.

All in all, Anchorage Community Theatre is closing its 2012-2013 season with this simplistic but very entertaining musical comedy.  It is well worth visiting the studio theatre on East 70th.

 

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