I have a confession to make. After surviving 15 years of Catholic school education – I went “public” for kindergarten and my first year of college – I’ve developed a soft spot for Dan Goggin’s Little Sisters of Hoboken. Apparently, so too have millions of others worldwide, as the franchise blossomed from a line of greeting cards into a 1984 cabaret show, the 1985 off-Broadway hit “Nunsense” (which ran for 3,672 performances), multiple sequels, TV specials, CDs, DVDs – and even an all-male version called “Nunsense A-Men!”
Locally, Reverend Mother Mary Regina and her flock of showbiz wannabes pack the house pretty much every time they hit the stage – which explains why the powers-that-be at Meadow Brook Theatre brought them back, this time in the first sequel, “Nunsense 2: The Second Coming.” And just like its immediate predecessor, the storyline is silly, but the laughs are plenty!
In the original “Nunsense,” the sisters are forced to raise money to bury 52 nuns who were accidentally poisoned by the convent cook, Sr. Julia, Child of God. Their first endeavor falls short by four, so the sisters put on a variety show to earn (and bury) the rest. “Nunsense 2” opens six weeks later with yet another variety show, this time staged by the sisters to thank the public for their earlier support. But trouble ensues when rival nuns from a Franciscan convent arrive and claim Sister Mary Amnesia (and the money she won in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes) as their own.
As with all of the “Nunsense” shows, Goggin’s script is a delightful mix of puns, double entendres, improbable situations and catchy tunes. But it’s the mostly fine performances of the black-and-white-clad actresses that truly charm the audience.
Bambi Jones (Sister Mary Hubert), Alexandra Kaprielian (Sister Mary Paul Amnesia) and Mary Robin Roth (Sister Robert Anne) are all “Nunsense” veterans, and it shows in their slick, honest and always spot-on performances. And along with bubbly Stephanie Wahl (Sister Mary Leo), their voices are heavenly.
Marcia Wallace, best known as Carol on “The Bob Newhart Show” and Mrs. Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” dons the habit for the first time as Reverend Mother. Although she seemed a bit unsure of herself on opening night, she still managed to deliver plenty of laughs.
Direction by Goggin is fine, as is the music direction and piano accompaniment of longtime collaborator Leo P. Carusone. And Reid G. Johnson lights multiple Emmy nominee Barry Axtell’s set quite nicely.
‘Nunsense 2: The Second Coming’
Meadow Brook Theatre, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester. Wednesday-Sunday through June 14. $25. 248-377-3300. http://www.mbtheatre.com.