Tuesday, November 3, 2009

REVIEW: Manatee Player's Nunsense

The Manatee Players latest comic musical "Nunsense" is filled with quirkiness – quirky nuns that is. The show features five nuns who put on a benefit at a local school. The money they raise will pay for the burial of the last five nuns who died eating a meal made by Sister Julia "Child of Gold." Call it their "Last Supper," so to speak, the nuns said. The benefit happens to be set on the stage of school’s production of "Grease."

From this, audiences can gather that "Nunsense" will be a wild ride of crazy hysterics. But those hysterics become too corny during the first act. Yet it makes up for that with pleasant, well-balanced humor in the second act.

What works well in the first act are the nuns interacting with the audience and each other with slapstick humor that was more appealing than the musical numbers. Though the tap dance number is a sight to see. The antics of Sister Mary Amnesia — her name says it all (played by Ellie Pattison) — and the street-wise Sister Robert Anne (Stephanie Costello), help infused the show with spot on comedy that the audience thoroughly enjoyed during Friday night’s show, directed by Bob Trisolini.

In the show, the nuns get one-on-one time with the audience, sharing their special talent and funny tales on what attracted them to the nunhood. Libby Fleming, as the young newbie Sister Mary Leo, has a nice ballet number where she dance en pointe several times. And Jeanne Larranage as the stern Rev. Mother Sister Mary Regina and Cara Herman as Sister Mary Hubert make a great team playing two leaders who like to disagree with each other.

The actresses showcase their talents best in the second act, keeping humor balanced and singing their hearts out with catchy tunes performed by a hidden "nun" band.

One of the most interesting elements in this Dan Goggin’s musical is how the actresses stay in character, interacting with the audience right before the show and during the last minutes of intermission. Again, Pattison and Costello portrayed the essence of their characters to the fullest — Pattison as the soft-voiced, often forgetful nun and Costello as the nun who enjoys being in the spotlight and "flirting" with the audience.

Overall, "Nunsense, "will make you smile.
-January Holmes

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