Nunsense

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Let’s face it, a quintet of nuns singing merry cabaret tunes and dancing like Broadway engenues is automatically funny.

That’s the idea behind “Nunsense,” now playing at the Little Brown Theatre. The small theater is a good setting for the small, simple show, and it means the performers don’t have to use microphones to be heard. (Still, the pre-recorded music could be louder at times — most of those nuns do a fine job belting out the lyrics, sometimes drowning out the accompaniment altogether.)

The Sisters of Hoboken, N.J., are in a dire situation. Seems their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, made some bad soup that sent 52 of their sisters on to their eternal reward. The convent could afford to bury 48 of them before the Mother Superior (Pat Bartlett) spend the rest of the money on a DVD player.

The remaining four ex-nuns are currently in the convent freezer, waiting until the sister can raise enough money to bury them. “Nunsense” is their fund-raiser, a little musical talent show featuring the Mother Superior, her right-hand nun Sister Hubert (Miriam Latour), dim-witted Sister Merry Amnesia (Lynette Webb), quiet Sister Leo (Chaundra Wilson), and street-wise understudy Sister Robert Anne (Wendy Asay).

It’s an outrageous, perhaps even appalling, premise for a show, of course, but it’s all in fun. “Nunsense” was written by Dan Goggin, himself a Catholic, and all the jokes about nuns and convents are written with love behind them.

Topping the cast is Lynette Webb as Sister Amnesia, who came to the convent a few years ago without a memory, a crucifix having fallen on her head. She grins with a wild cluelessness that is hilarious to watch.

All of the cast is strong and committed to their goofiness. Pat Bartlett, as the Mother Superior, was stumbling over almost every line on the second night of performances, which causes a problem, since she’s the MC. Still, one assumes she’ll improve as time goes on, and her prim, owlish character is a delight already, especially during a hysterical scene in which she accidentally gets high.

The ever-changing lighting design does an excellent job in making the small stage not seem too static, and in adding to the overall energy of the show. There are slow moments — a film called “Nunsmoke,” produced by the sisters, doesn’t add much — but things generally are brisk.

Witty lyrics and a light-hearted demeanor make this a fine, funny show, for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

I love the music in this show. So delightfully wacky, with great rhymes and stuff. Nuns singing and dancing = comedy (except in the case of "Sister Act 2," in which case nuns singing and dancing = Whoopi Goldberg needs to go away).

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