By Ellen Chappelle
Watching a nun doesn’t usually elicit laughter or bring to mind toe-tapping songs complete with choreography. But the nuns you’ll meet in Driftwood Players’ production of “Nunsense,” now playing at the Wade James Theatre, are not your typical sisters.
Opening last night to an enthusiastic crowd, five talented actresses donned the habit for this hilarious musical about a group of nuns who put on a musical revue in an effort to raise money for a very unique purpose.
Prior to the opening curtain, the nuns are shocked to find that 52 of their sisters have died of food poisoning after eating a delicious but deadly vichyssoise made by their very own cook, Sister Julia, Child of God. They set about to bury the dead, but run out of money with four bodies remaining. So they do the logical thing. They put them in the freezer.
The show begins as the remaining Little Sisters of Hoboken begin their benefit performance, singing and dancing their way through a host of hysterical songs – as well as a poignant moment or two.
As the story unfolds, the audience learns a little about the well-defined characters, each of whom in her own way hankers for the spotlight and turns out to be very human beneath her holy robes.
Mother Superior, deftly played by Stacie Hart in her Driftwood debut, appears at first to be the picture of control. In truth, she relies heavily on her right-hand nun and, in the end, allows herself to really let loose.
Second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert, played by Driftwood newcomer Erin Sprow, chafes a bit at being Number Two, but shows great heart in shepherding the younger nuns. Ultimately, she shows off that big, bluesy voice with one of the show’s best numbers.
Street-wise Sister Robert Anne, captured with pizazz by Amanda Moniz-Falcone in her first Driftwood show, brings a little color to the ladies of the black and white. Despite her tough exterior, she just wants acceptance like everyone else. Moniz-Falcone is completely comfortable in her sassy role, although she joined the cast just two weeks before opening night.
Sweet Sister Mary Amnesia, played by Kere Loughlin-Presnal, is a delight to watch. Her childlike joy is infectious as she searches for her true identity. No stranger to the Driftwood stage, the UW theatre grad has performed in a handful of other shows there.
Novice Sister Mary Leo (Anne Arnhold) is the youngest (both on- and off-stage) but you’d never know it. As a performer, Arnhold is just as seasoned the others, having appeared in 37 shows – including a few at Driftwood – by the tender age of 16.
The key to a good ensemble show is that every character is unique and each performer is strong. If you’ve got a weak link in this type of production, it really stands out. Fortunately, each actress in this show is rock-solid. Characters are carefully crafted, voices are strong and harmonies are beautiful.
And it’s funny, too. As Director Carissa Meissner Smit says in her Director’s Note, “In these anxious times, a belly laugh (preferably two or three) will do us all good!”
What more could you want from two hours at the theater?
“Nunsense” is playing Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 24 at Driftwood Players’ Wade James Theatre, 950 Main St., Edmonds. Tickets are $23 and $20, and can be purchased online here.
Other upcoming Edmonds-area performances:
Romantic comedy “Drinking Alone” is playing now through April 23 at the Phoenix Theatre in Firdale Village.
Olympic Ballet Company will perform “Coppélia, The Girl with Enamel Eyes” at Edmonds Center for the Arts on April 16-17.
Small ensembles featuring members of the Cascade Symphony Orchestra will perform April 10 at Edmonds United Methodist Church and April 15 at Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Church.
A gala benefit dinner for Edmonds-Woodway High School music programs features special guest artist Bochinche and musical performances by EWHS music students. The show begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Nile Golf and Country Club in Mountlake Terrace.
Edmonds-Woodway High School will hold its annual talent show from 7-10 p.m. Monday, April 18 in the EWHS Great Hall, 7600 212th St. S.W.
Cyrus Kambatta Dance Company performs in collaboration with Cameroonian painter Max Lyonga from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9 in the Black Box Theatre at Edmonds Community College.
Ellen Chappelle covers the local arts scene for My Edmonds News. She brings a life-long interest in the arts and many years of writing experience to the task, detailing upcoming performances, local art events and stories of Edmonds artists. A theatre and journalism major, she has toured with a professional theatre company and performed on a cruise ship. She has also served as the Pacific Northwest Regional Editor of Dog Magazine and the Seattle Dogs Examiner for Examiner.com. Since then, Ellen has been busy writing and editing for artists and small businesses, publishing an informational site for dog owners and creating handcrafted jewelry. Please keep her posted about all things artistic in Edmonds by emailing her at [email protected]