By LIBBY MOTIKA
Circling the News Contributor
Photos by: Joy Daunis
There is always something killingly funny about nuns doing just about anything beyond praying, teaching, nursing or tending to the poor. Yet, there are numerous set-ups that lead to unexpected specialties.
There is for instance a show on TV that features a sleuth, Sister Boniface, a la Father Brown. And, of course, the successful Broadway hit Sister Act, starring Whoopi Goldberg.
Nunsense, with music and lyrics by Dan Goggin, opened in New York in 1985, bringing nonsense to a mugging, punning, knee-slapping height.
The musical comedy is once again being revived by Theatre Palisades in this decidedly different time, but with surprising appeal. The plot, thin as can be, is really just a vehicle for the five-nun ensemble, each of whom does a star turn in her specialty—singing, ballet, clowning and ventriloquism.
The Little Sisters of Hoboken are putting on a talent show fundraiser. The backstory is the least interesting part of the show. It’s the show within the show that makes Nunsense work.
In the first act, the audience gets to know each nun and her one personality trait.
Valerie Sullivan as the Mother Superior commands the stage and tries to hold her boisterous sisters together when they kick up their heels and get out of line. That is until she herself liberates her inner id.
She discovers a mysterious vial called “Rush,” which she proceeds to imbibe, releasing the most hilarious performance of the giggling, let-it-all-hang-out acrobatic moves of a good time drunk.
A bit of a star in her past, she competes with Sister Robert Anne (Savannah Ludwig), who forever the understudy, insists that she deserves a leading role Playing Second Fiddle.) She gets her chance.
Sister Hubert (Jacquelyn Levy), who is in charge of schooling the novices, affects a deadpan, Whoopi Goldberg raised-eyebrow persona. Sister Leo (Lindsay Kazan) shines in her “The Dying Nun Ballet,” a hilarious nod to “Swan Lake.” Imagine this with wippel akimbo.
One thematic trope has to do with Sister Amnesia (Julie Hinton) who, yes, has forgotten her name. Until she recovers, however, she entertains the audience with her puppet resembling the Reverend Mother.
These talented actresses are the joy of this show. All are superbly trained artists who skillfully add so much to the ensemble.
The songs are accompanied by musical director Bill Wolfe on piano and Eva Friedman on drums.
Despite its featherweight plot, the show, directed by Alta Abbott, offers an evening of unburdened good fun.
Performances continue through October 9, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Pierson Playhouse, 941 Haverford Ave. For tickets, call (310) 454-1970.