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Empress Theatre to present ‘Nunsense, A Musical Comedy’

VICKI ARNDT – MACLEOD GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR

nunsense nuns
An adaptation of one of the longest running off-Broadway musicals of all-time will be presented by the Empress Theatre in June.
A huge dose of humour, 25 original songs, dancing and drama is in store for theatre goers when “Nunsense, A Musical Comedy” comes to the stage June 12–14 and June 19-21 in Fort Macleod.
“We have a handful of super talented women,” Nunsense director Erin Bourke-Henderson said. “Fantastic singers and wonderful human beings who are so dedicated to this project.”
An all-Fort Macleod cast featuring Laura Martin, Susan Wilde, Petula Hofer, Jill Coast and Lacey Poytress, along with the return of Laura Glover as musical director and Michael Ayotte as pianist, bring this comedy to life.
An appearance by three tap dance students from Cindy Gray’s Dance Studio and a small choir of community members who sing in a couple scenes round out the “Nunsense” cast.
This full-length theatre production originated from a line of outrageous and highly successful greeting cards by Dan Goggin, an American writer, composer and lyricist of musical theatre.
The cards included witty, catchy phrases and featured friend and dental assistant, Marilyn Farina dressed as a Roman Catholic nun.
The successful cards encouraged Goggin to expand the line into a cabaret show called “The Nunsense Story.” The show opened for a four-day run at Manhattan’s Duplex and due to its popularity remained for 38 weeks. The positive response to the show encouraged Goggin to turn it into the full-length feature production it is today.
“Nunsense” opened at the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre on Dec. 12, 1985. It then moved into the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre where it remained for ten years holding 3,672 performances. The show was translated into more than 26 languages with over 8,000 productions held worldwide grossing more than $500-million in revenue.
“‘Nunsense’ was chosen this year for its tight cast, catchy music and honest human emotions,” Henderson said.
Henderson is a graduate of the well-known Rosebud School of the Arts, an open-faith school whose core mission is to “challenge students in the lifelong journey of integrating faith and art.”
“I love that these nuns are so devoted to their faith, yet still struggle with their love of performing and balancing it,” Henderson said.
“It’s a fun and clean show that can make anyone laugh,” Henderson added. “Some humor will be over the heads of youth but the energetic song and dance and animated characters will prove entertaining enough. The decision to bring children is ultimately up to the parents.”
“Nunsense” begins after the convent loses 52 sisters to food poisoning. The sisters decide to put on a variety show to raise funds to pay for the burials of the four remaining sisters as they do not have enough money.
Featuring five nuns — a former circus performer Reverend Mother Regina, a streetwise nun Sister Robert Anne, the Mistress of Novices Sister Mary Hubert, the wacky Sister Mary Amnesia and the wannabe ballerina Sister Mary Leo — his musical comes to life with ballet and tap dancing, comedy and even an audience quiz.
The characters in the musical are all based on nuns Goggin had a great affection for and knew from his 12 years in parochial school growing up.
Goggin wrote the original script carefully to ensure religion was not poked fun at in any way but rather to portray nuns the way he knew them growing up, good-natured and fun-loving people.
The original musical’s huge success soon followed with a television adaptation starring Rue McClanahan along with six sequels and three spin-offs including “Nunsense 2: The Second Coming,” “Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree” and “Nunsenations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue” to name a few.
After the incredibly successful run of “Anne of Green Gables,” Henderson knew the time was right to follow with another musical comedy.
“The community has been asking for another musical, still riding the wave of joy that ‘Anne of Green Gables’ brought us.” Henderson said. “The time is right for another.”
Jenn Wolstenholme has taken the role of stage manager, Joella Bevan as prop master, Denise Calderwood as costume master, Patrick Harris and Natalie Harris managing technical and lights and Lena Gellespie as choreographer,
Empress staff including Margaret Ann Bianco, Tim Ranson and Vicki Arndt will also contribute to the success of this musical.
The show takes to the Empress stage June 12-14 and June 19-21 at 7 p.m. along with two Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on June 14 and June 21.

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