Ja’Duke’s Marvelous Performing Arts Center in Turners Falls Was Another Star of This Very Funny Musical, Nunsense
Don Goggin’s original idea for Nunsense, the ribald, hilarious musical came from a line of greeting cards featuring nuns that he drew in 1985. The production of the full-blown musical by Ja’Duke Theater on Sunday brought together a talented cast that gave this funny series of songs and skits its own local flavor, and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the matinee.
Nunsense has a preposterous and improbable plot. A convent of nuns has an unfortunate incident when 52 of their sisters are accidentally poisoned by Sister Julia, Child of God, who makes a deadly vichyssoise soup.
Four bodies remain unburied and are stored in the convent’s freezer. Hilarity ensues as the cast tries to come up with a way to make enough money to bury the victims and score when a sister remembers she won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. Thank God!
The cast of twenty women kicks off a series of cleverly written songs, very funny banter, and a million riffs filled with sexual innuendos and double entendres, throwing in funny references to popular films, and modern-day culture.
There are many numbers that stand out, the lead character, Reverend Mother Sister Mary Regina (Judith Dean Kulp) broke up the audience with her funny take on inhaling an intoxicant, writhing all over the floor, and doing quick hilarious takes.
Sister Robert Anne (Samantha Myburgh) was the strongest singer, effortlessly regaling us with the clever lyrics based on being an understudy and wanting to move up to being a star. Myburgh’s renditions of ‘Growing Up Catholic” and “I Just Want to be a Star” really showed off her pipes and her ability to charm an audience. Keep an eye on this actress!
There were so many fun moments, and quite a bit of audience involvement, we laughed at Sister Mary Amnesia as she bumbled her way through the improbably funny scenarios, handing out audience award cards, and Sister Mary Hubert (Juniper Holmes) really shone when she closed out the show with the final full cast singing “Holier than Thou.”
Director Nick Waynelovich didn’t get in the way of Goggin’s strong script, nothing felt dated even though the show was set back in 1985. The sound design by Fred Warren and the work of choreographer Eula Sagan were first-rate and added to the great flow of this fast-paced musical.
Nunsense was an off-Broadway phenomenon. It ran for 3,672 performances, becoming the second-longest-running Off-Broadway show in history (after The Fantasticks). It has spawned a TV show and has been translated into 82 languages for a total of more than 8000 productions worldwide!
The musical was staged in the relatively new Ja’Duke Theater, an impressive, large, purpose-built auditorium in, of all places, the Turners Falls Industrial Park. Driving down past the fish farm, the plastic film factory, and other industrial buildings, it’s nice to end up in a spacious parking lot and see the banners for upcoming shows on the new building. It’s a great use of the space and the building even sells good coffee along with the Twizzlers.
Nunsense, at the Ja’Duke Center for the Performing Arts, www.jaduketheater.com
Watch a clip of the Final Song, “Holier than Thou”
Read more of Max’s Local Theater reviews on Maxhartshorne.com.