By staff November 9, 2009

Yukking it up with those crazy sisters in the Manatee Players' Nunsense. 


By Kay Kipling


By now, Dan Goggin’s ever-popular Nunsense might seem like a show that can run on its own—a smoothly functioning, automatic laughs-getting machine. In reality, it’s like any other play in that it still can be done in if the cast and director don’t do their jobs well.


But no fear of that with the Manatee Players’ current production, which boasts five talented actresses who, with the help of an assistant stage manager/actor, choreographer-director Bob Trisolini and musical director Michelle Kasanofsky, keep the evening lively and fun despite its familiarity.


It’s hard to believe at this point that there’s anyone who doesn’t know the tale of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, which has surely made Goggin a fortune over the past three decades with production after production, but here goes: Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior (Jeanne Larranaga), Sister Mary Hubert (Cara Herman), Sister Robert Anne (Stephanie Woodman-Costello), Sister Mary Amnesia (Ellie Pattison) and Sister Mary Leo (Libby Fleming) are putting on a show at the Mt. Saint Helen’s School auditorium to raise money they desperately need to bury some unfortunately poisoned members of their order. (Blame Sister Julia, Child of God, the convent cook.)


Naturally, not everything runs as smoothly as it’s hoped, partly because of Sister Robert Anne’s relentless drive to get into the spotlight at all costs, partly because of the diminished mental capacities of Sister Mary Amnesia (Ellie Pattison manages to get laughs without even opening her mouth; her facial expressions alone are priceless). But you can count on those tap dancing, joke-telling nuns to pull it off.


Since the show has been around for such a long time now, there’s a little new material thrown in for updating purposes (references to a VCR are replaced by ones to a laptop computer, etc.) and some staging is slightly different than I remember it (I missed Sister Robert Anne’s arrival on a bicycle when she enters to music from The Wizard of Oz).


On the night I attended, Larranaga struggled a bit early on with line hesitation and too much nervous laughter, but she was fine in her solo moments, especially the still hilarious “Rush”-sniffing scene. Woodman-Costello is well cast as the tomboyish, energetic Robert Anne; Fleming is suitably naïve and earnest as Mary Leo; and Herman gets to dig deep for her rendition of the show’s rousing closer Holier Than Thou. All in all, this Nunsense delivers what the title promises.


Nunsense continues at the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre through Nov. 15; for tickets call 748-5875 or go to   
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