This weekend, we went to go see Palo Alto Players' production of Nunsense with a Twist. There are quite a few versions of Nunsense out there, but this was the first one I've seen. The twist, in this case, was that Mother Superior (Sister Mary Regina) was played by Chris Blake... and Chris is not short for Christina. :-)
The basic premise is the nuns are short on cash for a very important project and they are doing a fund raiser, which explains why they are all on stage and singing. Hilarity, of course, ensues, as the show goes on and things just keep going wrong.
What I loved most about this production is that there was no mention or issue made of the fact that Mother Superior was being played by a man... Mr. Blake wore the same shoes as the rest of the ladies and the same habit. They didn't tart him up nor did Mr. Blake act like a man in drag. He was, quite simply, just Mother Superior.
Okay, not "just" - Mr. Blake brought wonderful physical comedy to the show, peppered in his priceless expressions throughout, and even sang wonderfully.
All five cast members were a joy to watch and brought something unique to the production, particularly Charlotte Jacobs as Sister Robert Anne, who really shined in "Growing up Catholic" and "I Just Want to Be a Star".
The show also featured great performances from Juanita Harris (Sister Mary Hubert), Jennifer Martinelli (Sister Mary Amnesia) and Jennifer Gregoire (Sister Mary Leo, the ballerina nun).
Of course, these actors did not direct themselves, nor choreograph their own dances! The wonderful staging and delightful dance numbers deserve kudos as well! Mark Drumm directed and Alexandria Kaprielian choreographed.
I loved that the band was behind the performers, as this theater, like so many poorly designed theaters in the bay area, has no pit for the orchestra. Even behind them, none of the cast struggled with tempo or cut-offs. Definitely a well-oiled machine, kudos to band director Matthew Mattei.
Excellent lighting, of course, as Ed Hunter was behind lighting design, as he is for many shows that I've seen, performed in, or merely heard great things about. (When Mr. Hunter is not lighting a show, he may be playing cello in the orchestra. Definitely a love of theater!)
My only complaint would be about the slow start to the show, which had some awkward audience interaction at the top. I believe they were delaying due to late comers for the show, as parking was particularly difficult that night. Once the show actually started, with Sister Robert Anne welcoming us all to the theater, it was a delight.
One other small nit: On the back page of the program, along with the donation envelopes, there was a bizarre lack of apostrophes. For example, they have a "Producers Circle" level of donors. Instead of either "Producer's Circle" or "Producers' Circle" (depending on how many producers own the circle). Hopefully they'll get that cleaned up for the next production. Maybe I've just been reading Cake Wrecks for too long ;-)
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