Photo by Jeff Bellante
It’s fun to be a nun at the Gateway
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.
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