Longmont Theater Company’s ‘Nunsense’ delivers holy laughter

March 16 – From ‘The Flying Nun’ to the ‘Sister Act’ franchise, the women of faith portrayed onscreen have provided comedic gold for decades.

Over 35 years ago, Dan Goggin created a collection of greeting cards featuring a nun with wacky sayings. When the collection’s popularity grew, he was inspired to develop a cabaret show that eventually evolved into a full musical called “Nunsense”.

The popular musical opened at the Longmont Theater Company last week and will run until March 27, with performances at 7.30pm Friday and Saturday and 2pm Sunday.

“The show was a huge success,” said director Pat Payne, who has directed production several times before, most recently at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown, where he serves as production manager. “(It) has spawned at least eight sequels and is loved by audiences around the world. It’s played on six continents and in dozens of languages. I think the reason for that is – deep down, it’s not just funny, but also just a fun and enjoyable time in the theatre.”

The comedy could definitely be called dark, as it centers on five of Hoboken’s 19 surviving Little Sisters. The other 52 covenant residents perished after the cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, accidentally poisoned them with a tainted batch of vichyssoise – a thick French soup typically made from boiled and mashed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream and chicken broth.

Luckily, some sisters missed the killer meal because they were playing bingo.

“I play Sister Mary Amnesia – the sweet, innocent nun who lost her memory,” said Jessi Green, whose character was forever changed after a crucifix fell on her head. “She’s an eternal optimist, so when I play her, I look at the world through her childlike eyes.”

The corpses of nuns who perished are temporarily stored in the freezer. Desperate for funds to bury their sisters, the dress crew decides to host a variety show to cover the costs.

Extravagant dance routines, jubilant songs and quizzes for the audience are just a few of the ways the holy ladies entertain.

“What makes the show so funny is that these nuns — who are supposed to be the pinnacle of purity and goodness — really are as flawed as anyone else,” Green said. “The variety show is every one of their chances to shine, and they can’t help but take advantage of that spotlight a little more than their calling normally allows. But they’re real. That’s what makes you to like.”

The hilarious production features an unfiltered religious puppet, Sister Mary Annette – also hosted by Green.

“Mary Annette was quite the costar,” Green said. “Once comfortable, she really got her own personality. She’s rude where Amnesia is soft, and she says everything Amnesia can’t. She gave me the opportunity to explore that another side of Amnesia’s inner monologue – as dialogue – where she’s a little sick of being so nice all the time.”

Attendees will no doubt be impressed by the powerful voices and comedic timing of the actors.

“I love that ‘Nunsense’ has an ensemble cast,” Green said. “Each of the nuns has the chance to shine on stage. I firmly believe that there are no small roles, and the ensemble musicals really exemplify that idea. I feel lucky to be on stage with a such a talented group.”

Another fun element is that the nuns have to stage the variety show at a college whose stage is set up for a production of “Grease.”

“Of course, I hope the audience will walk away laughing,” Green said. “Goggin’s storyline is great fun. But one of the major themes of the show is the importance of the choices we make. Throughout the show, each of the nuns reflects on their decision to join the convent because that choice forever alters the course of his life. I think we can all relate to these big decisions and the transformation that can come with them.

Over 10,000 productions of “Nunsense” have been staged worldwide. Various castings have included industry heavyweights, like Phyllis Diller and Sally Struthers.

“Of course, if you’re of faith, you’ll find some very funny moments, but if you’re not, the premise is still very funny and the characters don’t disappoint,” Payne said.

Tickets are $30 plus fees.

“I love working with the folks at LTC because everyone has a wonderful time and they love what they do,” Payne said. “Especially after almost two years of our industry being hit so hard, it’s nice to see theater coming back with a vengeance and with everything going on in our world right now, I’m so excited to offer people a way to escape and just laugh.”

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