Missing Nunsense would be nonsense!
by Carrie Moore
Custer County Chronicle/Hill City Prevailer News
In one of the first songs performed during “Nunsense,” the newest Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) production of the season, the lyrics promise that the show “is habit-forming.” Costume-pun aside, after seeing the song, dance and comedy, you’ll realize that those nuns aren’t lying.
The show starts with five sisters in need of funds to bury their dead sisters. You see, Sister Julia, Child of God, made some rancid vichyssoise soup that killed 52 sisters. Because of their dire need of funds to bury the remaining four sisters, the sisters of Hoboken decided to put on a variety show, with the audience as their, well, audience.
The sisters are: former circus performer (Kristy Bauer); a Mistress of Novices, Sister Mary Hubert (Josey Miller); a streetwise nun from Brooklyn, (Mary Buss); a wannabe ballerina who has yet to earn her habit (Lera Zamaraeva); and an amnesiac nun who has lost her memory (Sarah Randall).
Picking an individual performance to highlight is hard, as all the ladies were fantastic. The characters were so different from one another, yet connected in a wonderful way. It’s hard to not love each and every one of those dear sisters.
One thing the nuns all have in common is a longing for the stage, which only adds to the hilarity. They each had their standout moments, delightful in each of their own way.
Zamaraeva impresses with her ballet skills and gracefulness, while Miller’s gospel just may rival Sister Aretha Franklin.
But the best part of the production may be prior to the show and during intermission when the cast comes out to interact with the crowd in character. I and my neighbors chatted with Sister Amnesia about communion — which she said she would try to remember to get to — while my neighbor up front spoke with Sister Mary Hubert about her fears for her Protestant husband. It was a fun element to the production, making us feel like we were in on the fun.
Amid tap dancing, ballet and an audience quiz, the talented cast create a memorable theatrical experience. The songs were fantastic, with scintillating voices filling the Playhouse with the kind of spirit one would find at church. You can’t help but stomp and clap along to the songs — especially the finale, “Holier Than Thou.” If you see this production, be prepared for a shot of the holy spirit.
“Nunsense” could quickly get out of hand if not reigned in. Thankfully, veteran BHP director Matt Nesmith had a great handle on it, perfectly blending comedy, a touch of drama and the musical performances. Nesmith created a wonderful world where nuns sing and dance,while still staying true to their roles in the convent.
Doing a marvelous job was choreographer Andrea Schaefer, who created all the dance numbers, including some ballet, tap and a chorus line. It was a big undertaking, most of which happened in the moment instead of ahead of time, according to Schaefer, but executed well, with fun, pizazz and grace.
If you’re looking for some laughs, and maybe even a Hail Mary, make sure to catch “Nunsense.” It’s a spectacular production, with a brilliant cast and superb direction and design. You definitely don’t want to miss this one — it would be a sin!
“Nunsense” runs through July 17. The play runs in repertory with “Pageant.” To see the schedule of the plays or to purchase tickets, visit blackhillsplayhouse.com or call (605) 255-4141.
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