In keeping with its annual holiday tradition, Courtenay Little Theatre is gearing up for its latest offering, set to run at the Sid Williams Theatre from Boxing Day to New Year’s Eve.
Nunsense is about five nuns from the Little Sisters of Hoboken, who are putting on a fundraiser in the auditorium of Mount St. Helen’s Catholic School.
Onstage is a set from the school’s musical Grease and the reason for the fundraiser in this unlikely setting stems from an urgent need to raise funds to bury the last four of 52 nuns who died when Sister Julia served them vichyssoise soup that gave botulism to all who ate it.
The four dead nuns are safely ensconced in the convent’s freezer while they await interment, and thus the madcap merriment begins…
Nunsense is a musical revue, full of song, dance and jokes, and is a fun, lively show meant to light-heartedly showcase “the humour of the nun” rather than to make a social comment. The wacky characters in the show are based on the nuns who taught Dan Goggin, the originator of the revue.
It is rife with puns and some double entendres but is very entertaining in its own right, without sex, swearing or disrespect toward the Church or Catholic faith.
Nunsense is an award-winning show (four Outer Circle Critics Awards, including Best Musical) that ran off-Broadway for over 10 years and has been produced worldwide to great acclaim with over 5,000 performances in 21 different languages, plus eight spinoff shows.
Director Tony Arnold, well-known to Valley audiences, has teamed up with choreographer Susan Bradshaw and musical director Sharon Pridham to bring to life the show’s roll-in-the-aisle funny skits, songs and musical genre spoofs.
Bradshaw and Pridham have made a quick transition from working together on Rainbow Youth Theatre’s recent Anne of Green Gables, which Bradshaw choreographed and helped direct, with Pridham as stage manager.
Having worked with the large cast of 65 adults and children in that show, both are pleased to be working with the five member cast of Nunsense, which Pridham describes as her “dream team.”
The triple threat (singing, acting and dancing) demands of the show are skillfully executed by the dedicated cast, which consists of Jeannine Taylor (Mother Superior), Crystal-lee Young (Sister Mary Hubert), Kate Morrison (Sister Mary Leo), Kim Tsang (Sister Robert Anne) and Meghan Hanley (Sister Mary Amnesia). Many hours of rehearsal have gone into each priceless scenario in the hit musical comedy.
Joining them onstage will be a four member band, with Daniel Dowker on piano, Janet Shaw on synthesizer, Tom Spratt playing saxophone, and Paul Charter on drums.
In a recent interview, Arnold explained what attracted him to direct Nunsense.
“When I first read the script, I realized that the characters in Nunsense are not just wacky people doing wacky things, but real human beings … doing wacky things,” states Arnold. “These nuns all have an interesting past, and worldly as well as spiritual aspirations. To me that is very interesting and then I listened to the wonderful music on a CD, and I was hooked!”
Arnold is also quick to emphasize the team aspect of producing the kind of high quality community theatre for which CLT is renowned. “The most uplifting aspect of directing in community theatre is that it gives so many people a chance to express themselves. We have organizers, writers, set builders, painters, puppet makers, window dressers, poster designers, costume designers and makers — the list is endless — all contributing to the final product onstage. That is what it is all about!”
The entire team from CLT consider this holiday show to be their gift to the people of the Comox Valley, spanning the lull between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve with entertainment.
Tickets are selling quickly. They would be great for those last-minute stocking stuffers and the special New Year’s special, which will give audiences a chance to “ring in the New Year with the nuns,” is expected to sell out completely.
Although there are still good tickets available, theatergoers are advised to get their tickets now for this habit-forming show.
Nunsense will be performed at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay on Dec. 26 at 2 p.m., Dec. 27 to 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are on sale at the Sid Williams box office, online at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com or by phone at 250-338-2430, ext. 1.
— Courtenay Little Theatre