Get in the habit: Sutter Street Theatre’s ‘Nunsense’ is a Lenten delight
At a Catholic school crab feed fundraiser some years ago a friend of mine reached for another bowl of pasta, turned to me and said, “You know, it ain’t cheap being Catholic.”
How true, I thought. How deliciously true. The entertainment can vary widely (“Bingo!”), from great to so-so … but it’s always for such a Great Cause. You dig deeply in your purse or reach for the hubster’s back pocket and give some more when the basket comes around – yet again. Even more so if the wine at the table is really good and the room is floating before your eyes.
Uninhibited giving, it’s … well … a Catholic thing.
The Catholic fundraiser is the setting for Dan Goggin’s musical, “Nunsense,” now playing at Sutter Street Theatre in Folsom.
The play begins even before it begins. The Little Sisters of Hoboken greet audience members at the door and thank them for coming to their fundraiser show. You see, they need to raise funds – and quickly. The sisters need money to bury four sisters accidentally poisoned by their cook, Sister Mary Julia (+ Child of God). The dead sisters are on ice in the convent freezer, and time is running out. The health inspector is on his way, and those four dead sisters need to be ushered to the Pearly Gates – quickly.
So, a little Catholic fundraiser with songs, dancing, humor and an audience pop quiz seems to be just the ticket to solving all the sisters’ troubles.
Reverend Mother Mary Regina, delightfully portrayed by Connie Mockenhaupt, explains the dire situation the sisters are in, as she attempts to manage some very different personalities in the fundraising production and directs the lighting with a clicker.
There is Sister Robert Anne (Christi Axelson), who wants to be a star. Sister Mary Leo (Jessica Larrick) is a postulant who dreams of becoming a prima ballerina. Sister Mary Hubert (Madelyne Wright) struggles with playing second fiddle to the Reverend Mother – even though as the postulant mistress, she has significant influence.
Sister Mary Amnesia (Monica Wright) steals the show with her big eyes and innocent ways. You see, Sister Mary Amnesia can’t remember who she is. She’s been that way ever since a crucifix fell on her head. But a sweeter, more devout character you’ll never meet. Wright is genuine to her character and beautifully handles impromptu interaction with the audience during a Catholic school “pop quiz.”
There is something for nearly everyone in this production. Like a true fundraiser, there are brilliant scenes punctuated by moments of awkwardness. So bad, they are brilliant. I found myself grabbing my hand as it was reaching for my wallet to give to the cause.
“Nunsense” is a lighthearted, humorous tribute to Catholic culture, with all its frailties, sinners and saints. One need not make an Act of Contrition after attending this musical, unless one truly feels the need to. If in doubt, consult Sister Amnesia. She’s the one with the ruler and the big Rosary.
This play is fine for confirmands ages 12 and up.
“Nunsense” runs through May 1. The Sutter Street Theatre is located at 717 Sutter St. in Old Town Folsom. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets are $23 general, $21 seniors and SARTA members, and $15 for children ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the door, but for best availability call (916) 353-1001. Also visit www.sutterstreettheatre.com.
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