The first and last time I saw “Nunsense” was many years ago when the Goldenrod Showboat did three of them in one season. It was nun overload, to be sure.
But like I said, that was many years ago so when it turned up on The Muny’s schedule for this year I figured I was ready for another go. I enjoyed it the first time but not nearly as much as my wife, who attended Catholic girls’ school and laughed louder and harder at “Nunsense” than really the law should allow.
“Nunsense” creator Dan Goggin came to town to oversee the Muny production, which still features the surviving nuns of the Little Sisters of Hoboken as they put on a show to raise money. The funds are needed to pay burial expenses for several of their sisters who died eating bad vichyssoise. The accidental deaths are the result of the inept cooking skills of Sister Julia, Child of God (Phyllis Smith, from TV’s “The Office”).
Smith is joined on stage by a quartet of talented actresses — Dee Hoty as Reverend Mother Mary Regina, Tari Kelly as Sister Mary Amnesia, Beth Leavel as Sister Robert Anne, Sarah Meahl as Sister Mary Leo and Terri White as Sister Mary Hubert. The show also features Ken Page as Sister Mary Wilhelm and Lara Teeter as Father Virgil. Each cast member is given a song and/or dance number in which to shine.
“Nunsense” takes place on a high school stage where the nuns use whatever set the drama department had been using previously. In this case the sisters are working with the staging from “Shrek: The Musical,” which just ended its Muny run. The costumes are — well — a lot of black and white (although Sister Julia is given a touch of red).
So the sets are nothing new (unless you missed “Shrek”) and the costumes are tame but the show makes up for it in humor and dance. The Muny is a large stage for such an intimate show but the cast project large enough personas to fill the space. And since this is Muny Style, the show is filled with the usual large, energetic dance numbers. There are also plenty of nods to the locals, such as a fashion show featuring girls from the local Catholic schools.
The show has many musical highlights, the biggest being “Tackle That Temptation With a Time Step,” a rousing tap-dance number that closes the first act, and the exhilarating finale “”Holier Than Thou.”
“Nunsense” runs through July 7. http://www.muny.org/