Theater Review: Nunsensations
Nunsensations at the Broadway Theatre
What Happens in Vegas Comes to the Westchester Broadway Theatre
Nunsensations: the Nunsense
Vegas Revue is the seventh—yes, seventh—installment in the popular Nunsense series, which began as a little Off-Broadway cabaret show and became an overnight success. This time, the play finds the Westchester Broadway Theatre transformed into the Pump Room—a cheesy, neon-colored nightclub located on the third floor of Vegas’s Mystique Motor Lodge—as the now-famous Sisters of Hoboken are offered $10,000 to perform a holy musical revue in
Unlike most sequels, the reason to return to the Nunsense franchise is not a deep love of the characters and an interest in seeing their unfolding storylines. It’s what the sisters do, rather than who they are, that makes the show compelling. In fact, the show’s weakest moment is a half-hearted bid to make the characters three-dimensional by having one of the sisters doubt her usefulness to the convent—an issue which was mercifully dropped soon after its introduction. Instead, it’s the wit and humor of creator Dan Goggin that warrants a revisit to the Sisters of Hoboken. He builds his plays around sharp references and clever puns. “What did one cannibal say to another?” asks one sister during a Vaudeville-style series of one-liners. “Why are we boiling this missionary—he’s a friar!” They pause just long enough for a drumroll, then it's on to the next joke.
Taking second-stage to the barrage of puns and one-liners are the actual musical numbers, which, taking on a variety of styles from parodies of the Andrews Sisters to disco tunes à la the Village People, are fun but never really show-stopping. Seeing the outrageous outfits the sisters wear—think sequins, feathers, and one enormous hat topped with a reproduction of the Hindenberg blimp—is quite another story. And you thought nuns only wore habits.
Though all of the sisters carry the show triumphantly like a rosary, the world-premiere cast does have a couple of standouts, especially Jeanne Tinker as Sister Mary Paul (Amnesia), the nun who was supposedly a country singer before a crucifix fell on her head and wiped her memory. Tinker manages to shine in the group numbers, interact with the audience, sing twangy country-and-western songs, and perform both sides of a duet with her foul-mouthed nun puppet, Sister Mary Annette (get it?), and never once does she drop the simple, daffy persona of a not-quite-recovered head-trauma victim. Carolyn Droscoski also excels as sister Robert Anne, the nun who kills in the play’s penultimate number by channeling a little Ethel Merman.
It’s not certain how long Goggin can keep spinning out Nunsense sequels before the schtick wears thin—or even if he can come up with another conceit to get the convent in the limelight again. For now, though, a trip to see Nunsensations will leave you nun too disappointed.
Nunsensations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue
Westchester Broadway Theatre
1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford (914) 592-2222