This is not my first time. I’ve seen Nunsense- one of the actresses performing was the Beauty School Drop-out herself from the movie Grease and one of the Golden Girls played another nun. It was funny and perhaps a little more risqué than I was expecting in my channel surf to glory but there it was on cable television.
So we fast forward a few years and Paper Wing Theatre announces their 2015 schedule and it includes “Nunsense” on the bill and a little weird guy inside my head was actually kind of giddy at the prospect. I really liked it when I saw it a few years on A&E so this was kind of a highlight for the upcoming theatrical year. Kate Faber, who directed last years “Wondrettes”, would be tackling this show and I’m literally jumping in my chair with a little bit of excitement- quickly and stoically shoving it back behind me, because the Gorehound I’m known to be would never in a million years be the sort of person who gets a kick out of warm and fuzzy shows like this. Actually, I got more than a few sideways glances when I would tell people I was really looking forward to it- that I really love this show- and so on so forth. Like a certain little cog just wasn’t clicking with what they know about me- let me settle that issue right now: I am really freakin’ weird and it doesn’t just mean I like horror movies, sci-fi, comics, D&D, or Professional Wrestling.
I also like Nuns, puns, and off-kilter humor told through song.
Kate Faber pulls double duty here as the shows director and one of the five principle performers, Sister Hubert. Faber is one of the strongest vocal performers and an expressive comedic actress in her own right, but her direction really takes center stage here as she manages to corral five very different characters into a pun-heavy, zany, wackadoodle comedy with great timing, zany antics, and hilarious wordplay.
The premise is fairly simple; the surviving nuns of a New Jersey convent are putting on a talent show to raise the money to bury some of their less fortunate Sisters after a recent accident involving an accidental mass poisoning. It’s not the first tragic event to occur at the Convent, which we are quick to learn in one of the opening numbers instructing us on the history of the church. A lesson followed up by an audience participation quiz run by the Convent’s own Sister Amnesia (Alyca Tanner), a nun plagued with a mental disorder that causes her to be quite forgetful. I know there’s a name for that condition, but I can’t remember. Tanner also pulls double duty as the vocal director for music, but she left me in near tears with her characters timing and delivery. She’s so funny that it’s hard to reconcile that she’s also directing the strong vocals from a cast of ladies that never fail to deliver.
Each of the Nuns have a separate story about their lives, the decisions that led them to the Convent, and what their lives mean now that they’ve chosen this life for themselves. The show is mostly light-hearted fun with a little gallows humor (dead nuns in a freezer), but it never disrespects the Faith of the people who choose life of service for the purpose of a cheap laugh. Whether it’s the Brooklyn-born Nun with a little street smarts and a snarky attitude problem (Katie Day), the ballerina who hopes to express her faith through interpretive dance (Mindy Whitfield), or the former tight-rope walking Mother Superior (Linda Felice) whose life’s work came after a traumatic event- each of these Sisters has a reason for being where they are in their lives. All are hilarious and all shine in various moments of the play. I nearly had a few asthma attacks along the way.
Nunsense is all that and a bag of chips… okay, no one gave me a bag of chips and I could’ve quite frankly enjoyed a bag. But I digress. I like this show. I think a lot of people will enjoy this show and it’s something that you can take your kids to.
4 out of 5.