‘Nunsense A-Men!’ at Rockville Musical Theatre at The Gaithersburg Arts Barn by Anne Tsang


Rockville Musical Theatre presents Nunsense A-Men! by Dan Goggin, the musical, directed by Lee Michele Rosenthal and produced by Kelly Johnson is almost exactly the same as the original 1980s Nunsense! musical, except that the one difference in Nunsense A-Men! is that the five nuns are all played by men! I knew I was in for a fun night when before the show a few of the nuns came out and interacted with the audience, telling jokes, getting to know everyone, and getting everyone hyped up and ready for the show.

At the convent of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, the convent cook – Sister Julia Child of God – accidentally poisons and kills 52 members of the convent. The surviving five nuns – other Reverend Mother (Duane Monahan), Sister Mary Hubert (Paul Loebach), Sister Mary Leo (Aaron Lempert), Sister Mary Amnesia (Rich Shegogue), and Sister Robert Ann (Bob Schwartz) – put on a fundraiser talent show to help raise the funds to bury their fallen sisters and what a show it is! The 5 nuns sing, dance ballet, can-can, and tap dance to hilarious songs, including “Nunsense is Habit Forming,” and “We’ve Got to Clean Out the Freezer.” What ensues is an uproariously funny, sides-splitting, knee slapping, good time filled with perfectly delivered jokes about saints and Catholic recipes. Mary Magdalene Tart anyone?

The nuns: Sisters Robert Ann (Schwartz), Mary Regina (Monahan), Mary Hubert (Loebach), Mary Leo (Lempert), and Mary Amnesia (Shegogue). Photo by Bruce Rosenberg.

The nuns: Sisters Robert Ann (Bob Schwartz), Reverend Mother (Duane Monahan), Mary Hubert (Paul Loebach), Mary Leo (Aaron Lempert), and Mary Amnesia (Rich Shegogue). Photo by Bruce Rosenberg.

The cast is fantastic and each fits perfectly into their role. Monahan as Reverend Mother embodies the struggle she feels to be the stern role model and the spotlight loving performer she was meant to be. As second in command at the convent, Loebach is the perfect partner in crime to Monahan, and delivers his innocent digs at Reverend Mother’s  leadership with such innocence.

Lempert (Sister Mary Leo) definitely surprises and impresses the audience with his beautifully executed ballet moves. Shegogue, as Sister Mary Amnesia, the nun who can’t remember anything because a crucifix fell on her, is most endearing in “So You Want to Be a Nun,” performed as duet with Shegogue as the puppet Sister Mary Annette.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the entire cast, my favorite of the night was Schwartz as the street smart, Brooklyn raised, prankster Sister Robert Ann. His antic – making duck noises when they discuss Sister Julia Child of God making pressed duck, re-enacting the poisoning and death of their dearly departed sisters, tying his wimple into a witches hat and repeating lines from The Wizard of Oz – makes him the star of the night!

Sisters Mary Leo, Robert Ann, and Mary Amnesia in one of the dance numbers. Photo by Bruce Rosenberg.

Sisters Mary Leo (Aaron Lempert), Robert Ann (Bob Schwartz), and Mary Amnesia (Rich Shegogue) in one of the dance numbers. Photo by Bruce Rosenberg.

The nuns do a great job with Choreographer Stephanie Miller’s cabaret dance moves including the can-can dance, ballet, tap dancing, and jazz – handing their way to raucous laughter from every member of the audience. The costumes by Rosental, set design by Bill Brown, Rosenthal, and Shegogue, and light and sound by Rick Swink are simple but add to the general quirkiness and comedic appeal of the production. The set is set up for an 8th grade production of Grease, so while the nuns are performing, there is an old-fashioned diner bar table with stools, pictures of Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe.

Nunsense A-Men! is a engaging, audience participation required, lively, gut-busting, witty riot that should definitely not be missed! Its also child-friendly as most of the jokes are not too risqué.

Running Time: Two hours, with a 15 minute intermission.

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Nunsense A-Men! plays through April 21, 2013 at The Gaithersburg Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road,  in Gaithersburg, MD. There are performances tonight at 8 PM and tomorrow at 2 PM. Purchase tickets by calling (301) 258-6394.

 

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