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June 6-23, 2018
at Gateway Playhouse

Long Island Advance

Tara Smith

A funny thing happened on the way to the Gateway Friday night. While parking the car and picking up our tickets, we were greeted by the usual Gateway staff—only this time, they were porting religious garb. An admittedly kitsch move, it worked. “Nunsense” is the kind of show that invites you to let loose and really, really laugh.

You heard that right. You don’t necessarily have to have been raised Catholic or enrolled in Catholic school to enjoy the show, but it certainly helps, judging by the laughter after each joke.

Originally based on a series of greeting cards, “Nunsense” was created by Dan Goggin and ran for 3,672 performances, becoming the second-longest running Off Broadway show in history.

When the show begins, we are no longer the Gateway audience but the audience of a fundraiser variety show for the Little Sisters of Hoboken, hosted in a school auditorium where students are currently producing “Grease.”

The sisters need the dough after a recent incident where their cook, Sister Julia (Child of God), poisoned 52 sisters with a bad vichyssoise. After holding services for 48 of the deceased sisters, Mother Superior blew the rest on a fancy TV “for the convent.” The final four are being kept “on ice” in the freezer—much to the New Jersey Board of Health’s dismay.

Michael Baker has assembled a standout cast. As Sister Mary Regina, Kate Chapman is a commanding onstage presence who quickly establishes authority with her Catholic-school clicker. Gateway freshman Tamara Anderson is second in command as Sister Mary Hubert, Mistress of Novices, who delivers jokes brilliantly and takes us home with the penultimate number “Holier Than Thou.” Krista Kurtzberg, also in her Gateway debut, stuns as Sister Mary Leo, a novice who shines during her dance number. Caitlin Mesiano makes an immaculate Sister Mary Amnesia with her puzzled expressions—she can’t recall her true identity after being zonked in the head with a crucifix. Her beautiful soprano voice is impressive, as she switches between operatic Mozart to Loretta Lynn-style country with ease.

Sister Robert Anne, played hysterically by Alexa Jane Lowis, steals the spotlight again and again. The nun from Canarsie just wants to be a star. Her antics along the way—twisting her veil into different characters, a hilarious stint as Nun DMC and shooting hoops with the audience—are all part of the fun.

Speaking of audience interaction, be prepared for a pop quiz and other shenanigans, like banter between the sisters and pit director Robert Felstein, who has put together a lively, talented troupe of musicians.

In this production, director and choreographer Keith Andrews has peppered in more modern jokes while still keeping the lighthearted spirit of the show alive. In a world that lately has been full of one heavy headline after another, you owe it to yourself to laugh. Come one, come all. It’d be a sin to miss this one.


The Theatre Guide

Kristen Weyer

The zany sisters of Nunsense are back and playing at Gateway Playhouse! This musical comedy, with book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggin has been delighting audiences since 1985. Directed and choreographed here by Keith Andrews, this production is an excellent choice for an entertaining evening.

You are cordially invited to the fund raising benefit for The Little Sisters of Hoboken cloister, to be held in the auditorium of Mt. Saint Helen’s School. The nuns will sing, dance, tell stories and crack jokes all in the hopes that you will contribute to their aid. You see, they’ve had a little tragedy. Sister Julia, the cook, made a bad batch of vichyssoise and they lost 52 sisters to botulism poisoning. Unfortunately, they have run out of money for the burials and they need your help to get the last four sisters out of the freezer and into the ground. So, five of the remaining sisters are here to entertain you into donating; and entertain they most certainly will.

Nunsense is a fantastically funny show which gets the audience involved. You get a part in this crazy musical because the audience is cast as the fund raiser attendees. The nuns interact with the audience, speak directly to you and, yes, sometimes require a response. It sets the mood perfectly and creates a wonderfully immersive experience.

This wonderful cast of Nunsense is comprised of five very talented ladies; excellent vocals, dancing and characterization abound. Sister Mary Regina, Mother Superior, is superbly played by Kate Chapman. She strikes just the right blend of ‘in charge’ and ‘one of the girls’, and her body language communicates volumes. Her extraordinarily brilliant scene at the close of Act I is hysterical; (I don’t want to give it away, just trust me and go see it!)

Sister Mary Hubert, Mistress of Novices, is portrayed by Tamara Anderson; while novice Sister Mary Leo is played by Krista Kurtzberg. Anderson’s wry and sarcastic humor is a nice foil to the other antics, and her powerhouse solo in “Holier Than Thou” is impressive. Kurtzberg is an adorable novice sister, and her charming dance sequences are lovely.

Sister Robert Anne is fabulously played by Alexa Jane Lowis. Her spot-on Brooklyn accent and tom-boyish mannerisms are a pure delight to watch. She makes every one of her scenes fun, and you just can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next.

Last, but certainly not least, is the magnificent portrayal of Sister Mary Amnesia by Caitlin Mesiano who, at times, completely steals the show. She’s hilarious, plain and simple. Her facial expressions are incomparable; her timing, excellent. Oh, and just wait for the number “So You Want to be a Nun”, her vocal talent will blow you away.

The set design by Michael Boyer is fun and perfect, but that’s all I’m going to say because more will ruin the joke. The band performed beautifully under the direction of Robert Felstein.

Nunsense is a terrific time with crazy antics, silly songs, hidden jokes and more references than you can count. Hold on to your habits and enjoy the ride!