November 27, 2014
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Silly ‘Nunsense’ at Theatre-By-The-Sea
Don Fowler

You don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy the silly antics of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, but if you are you’ll relate to most of the humor.

When the actresses asked for a show of hands as to how many audience members were Catholic, about half of the matinee crowd raised their hands. And even then, most of them didn’t get the reference to the “clickers” the nuns used to use in parochial school. Times, they are changin’.

In spite of this lightweight musical being performed just about everywhere by everybody for the past 30 years, it still draws huge laughs from audiences.

Bill Hanney has brought in the original creator of the musical, Dan Goggin, to direct the current version at Theatre-by-the-Sea, and his magic touch works quite well thanks to a lively, talented cast of veteran equity actresses, led by Terry Wickline, who plays Reverend Mother Regina.

You know the story: The sisters are putting on a show to raise money to bury the sisters who were poisoned by their chef’s vichyssoise. The sisters stored them in the freezer, but the health inspector is on his way and they have to raise money to put them to permanent rest. It’s a silly premise, but it’s a silly show, full of singing, dancing, “ventriloquism, stand-up comedy, prat falls and a number of risqué references.

Scenic designer Barry Axtell, has come up with an appropriately gaudy set: A set for the high school production of “Grease,” which sets up a few more laughs.

All five nuns have their moments. Wickline has a hilarious scene at the end of Act I, when she gets a hold of a mysterious substance. Bambi Jones displays the best voice in the group as Sister Mary Hubert. Christine Mild is hilarious as the understudy who wants to be a star. Jeannie Tinkler plays the spaceshot Sister Mary Amnesia,a nd Stephanie Wahl plays the would-be ballerina Sister Mary Leo. All the corny jokes are there, interrupted by a dozen and a half songs, all written by Goggin and accompanied by an on-stage three-piece band.

With many heavy plays being produced this year in Rhode Island, “Nunsense” is the one to see if you just want to veg out and not think too much.

“Nunsense” is at Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuck through June 16. Call 782-8587. Tickets range from $39-$59.


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