THE BASICS: NUNSENSATIONS: The Nunsense Vegas Revue, a musical with book, music and lyrics by Dan Goggin, presented by Lancaster Opera House, conducted by David Bondrow, concludes its run this Sunday, February 13, Friday through Saturday at 7:30 a.m., Sunday at 2:30 a.m. at Lancaster Opera House 21 Central Avenue, Lancaster, NY 14086 (716-683-1776) lancasteropera.org Duration: 90 minutes without intermission. Proof of vaccination and mandatory masks.
THUMBNAIL SKETCH (taken from location): “When a parishioner volunteers to donate $10,000 to the Little Sisters of Hoboken School if they perform at a club in Las Vegas, Mother Superior is reluctant to accept. After being convinced by the other sisters that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, she agrees. Naughty nun hijinks ensue in this Vegas-themed sequel to Nunsense.
THE ACTORS, THE GAME AND THE PRODUCTION: When my millennial son asked me “Do you really like that kind of nonsense?” I told him that, honestly, all the Dan Goggin “non-creations” I’ve seen weren’t that great, but this one, NUNSENSATIONS, was really something special. So I urge you, dear reader, to set aside any preconceptions about location or material and enjoy this top-notch production.
NUNSENSATIONS is somewhat similar to the musical THE BOOK OF MORMON (although much less raunchy) in the use of send-offs or homages to a variety of musical styles, some of them popular musical genres and d other Broadway tropes. For example, a favorite number in NUNSENSATIONS is titled “T. and A.” this is how most people remember the song called “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” from the musical A CHORUS LINE. (“Just a pinch of silicone. Shake your new maracas and you’ll find out: boobs and ass can change your life. They certainly changed mine.”) Of course, in the song supposedly penned by The Mother Superior, “T . and A.” stands for “Talent and Attitude” which are, of course, also necessary for success on stage. This particular routine also pays homage to several of Buffalo’s Michael Bennett dance moves made famous in A CHORUS LINE.
As with any successful comic book writer, Goggin never sets up a situation without delivering a host of punch lines, both verbal and physical. Punch, punch, punch, there is pun after pun, double meaning after suggestive words, in quick succession. And there’s a healthy dose of “meta” (self-aware) humor too, including a scene-changing moment where the sisters walk out with a title card that reads “Shtick” and keep giving us, well , shtick – jokes in the style of old vaudeville revues.
David Dwyer’s set is very clever, with a glittering proscenium curtain and a huge roulette wheel (with lights!) in the center of the stage surrounded by larger-than-life gambling chips on which the sisters dance. I was advised to sit on the balcony when watching musicals at LOH and that was good advice as you didn’t miss a thing, especially Timmy Goodman’s choreography.
I was a little unhappy with the pit orchestra sounding thin. I don’t know why, maybe it was the orchestration. According to the program (printed and distributed, not virtual THANK YOU!) we heard drummer Nick Corallo, bassist Jay Wollin, Keith Galantowicz on winds, and two keyboards/synthesizers played by Matt Caputy and Fran Landis, the musical director, all experienced hands, again, I’m only guessing the cause.
Performers on stage included Mary Bellanti as Reverend Mother, Demyia Browning as Sister Hubert, Rebecca Kroetsch as Sister Leo, Katy Miner as Sister Robert Anne, and Emily Yancey as Sister Amnesia (with her puppet “ Sister Mary Annette). Talk about accomplished artists! Katy Miner recently sang with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Emily Yancey was recently seen on WNED PBS in the title role of the opera SUSANNAH, which was a WNED and Buffalo Opera Unlimited co-production. By the way, this opera will have an encore airing on WNED TV 17.1 on Monday, February 21 at 9:00 p.m.
I only touched a fraction of the cheerfulness and variety of musical styles. If the genre and content are right for you, I would make a real effort to attend.
*BUFFALO HERD (Notes on scoring system)
A BUFFALO: That means trouble. A terrible play, a very flawed production, or both. Unless there’s a really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you’re the parent of someone attending), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALO: Passable, but no major shaking. Either the production is quite off base or the part itself is problematic. Unless you’re the type of person who just goes to the theater, you might be looking for something else.
THREE BUFFALO: I’m still having my issues, but it’s been a damn good night at the theater. If you don’t come in with huge expectations, you’ll probably be satisfied.
FOUR BUFFALOS: The production and the piece are of high caliber. If the genre/content is right for you, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALO: Truly superb – a rare note. Comedies that leave you faint with laughter, dramas that truly touch your heart. As long as it’s the kind of show you like, you’d be crazy to miss it!