Nunsense

Barry Axtell's inspired set shows a high school auditorium stage, prepared for the musical "Grease," in loving detail. Jon Gottlieb's sound design delivers crisply, as does the live band. Paul Miller's light design is simple and effective.

With:
Sister Mary Regina ... Kathy Robinson Sister Mary Hubert ... Loretta Devine Sister Robert Anne ... Angelina Fiordellisi Sister Mary Amnesia ... Robin Taylor Sister Mary Leo ... Merilee Magnuson Musicians: Mitch Samu (piano), Steven Applegate (keyboards), Don Fortner (drums). Like a frothy chocolate malt on a hot day, "Nunsense" delivers empty calories that nonetheless feel good. The revival of the 1985 show joins 299 other productions currently in the U.S. -- 800 'round the world. With its unabashed puns and jokes, visual humor and interplay with the audience, the evening suggests naughtiness, but the irreverence is actually quite innocuous. For people who get to the theater rarely, it may be involving; for others who expect a little more, it's merely silly. Five nuns stand before the audience, ostensibly in a New Jersey school auditorium at a fund-raising talent show. The five Little Sisters of Hoboken need to entertain and get money to pay for the funerals of four peers. Their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, had served some vichyssoise, which killed 52 of them; only 48 have been buried, with the other four now stored in a walk-in freezer. So the five nuns break into song and dance, kid each other, and swap such jokes as: "What's a sleep-walking nun? A roamin' Catholic" and "How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it." Sister Mary Regina (Kathy Robinson), the mother superior from Ireland, runs the show much like all good-hearted but strict nuns cliched throughout filmland. She gets audience members to spit out their gum if they're chewing. Sister Mary Amnesia (director-choreographer Robin Taylor) can't remember where she came from, or even what today is, but she brings good cheer. Sister Mary Hubert (Loretta Devine) is graced with a gospel voice and delivers the heartiest song of the night, "Holier Than Thou." Sister Robert Anne (Angelina Fiordellisi) is the mother superior's understudy and gets to belt out a number after the head nun innocently whiffs too much of a bottle of intoxicating fumes. Sister Mary Leo (Merilee Magnuson), a wannabe dancer, gets to strut her stuff. Unlike Christopher Durang's stinging "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All to You,""Nunsense" has only fun and innocence. On opening night, the biggest laugh actually originated from an 8-year-old in the audience. When asked by Sister Amnesia if she had any pets, the girl replied , "No ... but my sister is an animal."

Barry Axtell’s inspired set shows a high school auditorium stage, prepared for the musical “Grease,” in loving detail. Jon Gottlieb’s sound design delivers crisply, as does the live band. Paul Miller’s light design is simple and effective.

Nunsense

(Westwood Playhouse; 498 seats; $ 35 top)

Production: Eric Krebs presents a musical in two acts by Dan Goggin. Directed and

Creative: Choreographed by Robin Taylor; set design, Barry Axtell; lighting, Paul Miller; sound design, Jon Gottlieb; musical direction, Mitch Samu. Opened, reviewed Aug. 11, 1993; runs through Sept. 5.

Cast: Sister Mary Regina ... Kathy Robinson Sister Mary Hubert ... Loretta Devine Sister Robert Anne ... Angelina Fiordellisi Sister Mary Amnesia ... Robin Taylor Sister Mary Leo ... Merilee Magnuson Musicians: Mitch Samu (piano), Steven Applegate (keyboards), Don Fortner (drums). Like a frothy chocolate malt on a hot day, "Nunsense" delivers empty calories that nonetheless feel good. The revival of the 1985 show joins 299 other productions currently in the U.S. -- 800 'round the world. With its unabashed puns and jokes, visual humor and interplay with the audience, the evening suggests naughtiness, but the irreverence is actually quite innocuous. For people who get to the theater rarely, it may be involving; for others who expect a little more, it's merely silly. Five nuns stand before the audience, ostensibly in a New Jersey school auditorium at a fund-raising talent show. The five Little Sisters of Hoboken need to entertain and get money to pay for the funerals of four peers. Their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, had served some vichyssoise, which killed 52 of them; only 48 have been buried, with the other four now stored in a walk-in freezer. So the five nuns break into song and dance, kid each other, and swap such jokes as: "What's a sleep-walking nun? A roamin' Catholic" and "How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it." Sister Mary Regina (Kathy Robinson), the mother superior from Ireland, runs the show much like all good-hearted but strict nuns cliched throughout filmland. She gets audience members to spit out their gum if they're chewing. Sister Mary Amnesia (director-choreographer Robin Taylor) can't remember where she came from, or even what today is, but she brings good cheer. Sister Mary Hubert (Loretta Devine) is graced with a gospel voice and delivers the heartiest song of the night, "Holier Than Thou." Sister Robert Anne (Angelina Fiordellisi) is the mother superior's understudy and gets to belt out a number after the head nun innocently whiffs too much of a bottle of intoxicating fumes. Sister Mary Leo (Merilee Magnuson), a wannabe dancer, gets to strut her stuff. Unlike Christopher Durang's stinging "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All to You,""Nunsense" has only fun and innocence. On opening night, the biggest laugh actually originated from an 8-year-old in the audience. When asked by Sister Amnesia if she had any pets, the girl replied , "No ... but my sister is an animal."

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