Theatre Review: Nunsense

‘Nunsense’ is a musical comedy concerning a small group of nuns whose convent is struck by food poisoning. In order to raise money they put on a variety show.

Presented by Blackwood Players Inc
Reviewed 20 May 2016

Nunsense is a little-performed musical comedy that surrounds a small group of nuns whose convent has been struck by a severe case of food poisoning, resulting in the death of most of their holy group. In order to raise enough money for the burial, they borrow the school auditorium from the local school musical and put on a variety show. The cast rises to the challenge of this multi-faceted piece carrying the comedy right through until the end.

Each of the five lead nuns is required to sing, dance and act consistently over the entire show – a large feat for any performer. This production is incredibly lucky to have five formidable talents grace their stage who deliver the material with talent, humour and tenderness.

Amanda James reigns over the other nuns as Reverend Mother Mary Regina. Her accent is solid and her experience with Rush at the end of Act 1 is truly a highlight. Eve McMillan as Sister Mary Hubert has a fantastic chemistry with the other cast members and her humour is fantastic. As part of a relatively small vocal ensemble, McMillan’s voice stands out strongly – in a very good way – bringing the house down with Holier than Thou. As Sister Robert Anne, Katharine Chase plays the notably comic part absolutely perfectly. Her belt rings clear in her two big songs, Playing Second Fiddle and I Just Want to Be A Star. In a notably difficult part, Karina Black sings and acts well as Sister Mary Amnesia. At times her voice seems thin in her higher register but her top notes ring true and all is forgiven with a small amount of handy puppet-work. Tiffany Barbary plays Sister Mary Leo adorably, with her dancing being delivered with such energy and enthusiasm it dominates the stage.

Traditionally Nunsense is performed with a small cast of only the five leads but director, Selena Britz, has made the choice to extend this by adding another five ensemble members. On the large Blackwood stage this is an excellent choice as it ensures the stage remains full of life and action. Britz has done a fantastic job in both maintaining the pace of the show and drilling the cast in their choreography – the tap in Tackle That Temptation With A Timestep is incredibly well done.

The set design is functional and moves well to vary the action. It is a little tacky, but this does work with the story and thrown-together nature of the nuns’ show. The same can be said of the lighting design with some cues being late, but it not being clear if this was intentional. A small issue was the characters asking for spotlights for their big number even when already being fully lit; better lighting design would have made this more effective.

Overall, this production is a rollicking success which leaves the audience tapping their toes and cackling in the aisles. Blackwood Players should be incredibly proud of this production and it is definitely not one to be missed.

Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio

Venue: Blackwood Memorial Hall
Season: 20th May – 4th June
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins
Tickets: $20 – $25


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