by Gerry Roe
Amana – Several years ago I saw Nunsense, the first musical featuring the Mount St. Helens Convent of the Little Sisters of Hoboken and found the various characters both amusing and occasionally touching in their efforts to raise money to bury a large number (92 I think) of their sisters who had been accidentally poisoned by vichyssoise prepared by their cook, Sister Julia Child of God. Subsequent adventures of the nuns have resulted in a franchise of at least seven different comedy musicals by playwright/lyricist Dan Goggin. The common thread (besides the characters) is that the Little Sisters of Hoboken are doing a show for their fundraising efforts.
Old Creamery Theatre’s current offering, Nuncrackers, a Nunsense Christmas Musical, continues the saga of the Little Sisters of Hoboken as they present a public access television program from their basement WCON-TV studio. Joining the sisters are several children in parochial school garb and Father Virgil, the brother of Sister Leo who would have performed in The Nutcracker if she hadn’t just broken her leg backstage.
But the show must go on and so it does with Reverend Mother Mary Regina (Marquetta Senters) and Father Virgil (Sean McCall), in amazing tutus filling in for the indisposed Sister Leo. Senters and McCall once again delight the audience with their inspired clowning and extraordinary teamwork. Each of them has a wonderful solo bit as Mother Mary Regina recalls a youthful experience of accompanying her parents in a traveling carnival and Father Virgil substitutes for Sister Julia Child of God in a bit about making fruitcake laced with rum, some of which goes into the fruitcake batter and much more of which goes into the baker.
Sean McCall, who also directed, has assembled a great cast of nuns and children to round out the cast. Sister Robert Anne is played by Katie Colletta who captures the feeling of being something of a misfit due to the toughness she acquired growing up poor in Brooklyn. She tells a touching story about her part in a nativity scene (she gets to place the baby Jesus in the manger) but as she looks out in the audience she sees the father who abandoned the family last Christmas quietly joining her mother and siblings in the pew.
Carris SaLoutos plays Sister Mary Paul, who is labeled Sister Mary Amnesia as the result of being struck on the head when a large crucifix fell giving her a problem with memory and with words. Her faith, however, seems intact and she seems untroubled by her mistakes, such as teaching the children the carol “The Holly and the Ivory.” She is Mrs. Malaprop in a habit, but she is also a country singer in the song, “Santa Ain’t Coming to Our House,” and a more than passable yodeler.
Sister Mary Hubert, played by Sierra White in her debut with Old Creamery, displays excellent comic timing and a powerful voice perfectly at home in choral singing, duets and trios, then soaring in her solo number, “It’s Better to Give,” while demonstrating her facility in gospel, jazz, and even scat.
The children in the production are played by Hannah Rodgers, Ella Rosario, Mason Erger, Alec Schiefer, Sonny Conrad, and Mitchell Erger. Apparently these roles are alternated, since I saw only four children, but they were more than creditable in their singing and dancing.
In the Nunsense tradition, the show is sometimes corny, sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching. Make this show a part of your holiday experience—no matter how many incarnations of the Little Sisters of Hoboken you may have seen.