Who would have thought that a small, out-of-the-way theater like Curtain Call would have the answer to the overwhelming Sturm and Drang oppressing us daily! They’re offering the chance to escape the relentless political mayhem by embracing the comic mayhem of NUNSENSE THE MUSICAL (playing through Nov. 4th). Laughter, it seems, may be the only respite we have.
Audiences evidently adore nuns behaving badly… almost as much as misbehaving puppets: Dan Goggin’s musical has both, from an irreverent Reverend Mother to an unruly puppet called Sister Mary Annette. It seems the NUNSENSE franchise is going strong still, with sequels and spin-offs everywhere. But essential to a successful send-up are comic timing, truthful portrayals and crackerjack performers who can sing, dance and spoof. Director/choreographer David Costa has a professional cast who make it look easy, even the raucous tap number!
Mary Beth Murphy as Mother Superior reigns over her brood with a severe side glance that most school children instantly recognize… but you don’t have to be Catholic to be familiar with the stern stance of authority, or to delight in the Reverend Mother’s unintentional tumble from grace. Murphy’s momentarily lapsed Right Reverend is a hoot.
Christine Kenney as Sister Robert (with a decidedly broad
Bronx accent) gets lots of laughs complaining about
playing second fiddle to Mother Superior. She even gets a song about it. Nikita
DaRosa gives a winning performance as the sweetest ballet dancing Sister Mary
Leo I’ve encountered in many a NUNSENSE… and Kels Ferguson wins our hearts
hands down, as the slightly vague Sister suffering mightily from amnesia. and her puppet
steal the show outright. Not only does she voice Sister Marie Annette without
moving her lips, her own voice in their duet is a unique blend of Disneyfied
warble and operatic Bel Canto. Bravo. Ferguson
Rena Pemper-Rodriguez gets to fire up the audience as if it were a Revival Meeting with her Holier Than Thou hoedown. Music director Danielle Clougher steps up the tempo for a rip-roaring finish to the show. When I attended, the audience was responding to Sister Hubert like it was an evangelical service with call and response! David Costa and company have conjured up some virtuoso alchemy for a truly delightful NUNSENSE.