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Fort Macleod theatre group preparing new musical ‘Nunsense’ at the Empress Theatre

erin henderson

Erin Henderson is producer and director of ‘Nunsense,” the musical being staged by the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod.

Hot on the heels of its successful production of “Anne of Green Gables,” a Fort Macleod theatre group is gearing up for a new musical.
The Empress Theatre will stage “Nunsense,” one of the longest-running shows in off-Broadway history, from June 11-21.
“It was important for me to keep the momentum going,” director and producer Erin Henderson said. “With the energy it ignited, there’s no way we could let it slip for a year. People want it, it’s good for the theatre and it’s good for the community.”
The decision to stage another musical was in response to public demand.
“That’s what people were asking for,” Henderson said. “And we have great singers in Fort Macleod.”
Staging “Anne of Green Gables” last year was a gamble for the group, which revived live theatre in Fort Macleod after an absence of a decade.
“We were worried we wouldn’t get enough people,” Henderson.
The fears were unfounded as a huge cast was put together for “Anne.”
The response from the viewing public was also strong. The first performance was just short of a sell-out but word spread and all tickets for the remaining five shows were snapped up.
The Empress group considered a number of possibilities before settling on “Nunsense.”
“We felt like it had the right requirements for what the community has to offer,” Henderson said. “It’s a musical, it has a smaller cast, and it’s funny.”
“Nunsense” is based on five nuns who start a greeting card company to raise money, and then decide to stage a variety show in the school auditorium.
The musical, which features 25 original songs, had its roots as a series of greeting cards by Dan Goggin featuring a nun who made quips with a clerical slant.
The popularity of the greeting cards prompted Goggin to develop a cabaret titled “The Nunsense Story.” The cabaret’s 38-week run in Manhattan encouraged Goggin to create a full-length theatre production.
“Nunsense” opened in December 1985 and ran for 3,672 performances over 10 years off-Broadway.
“That’s a testament to how popular the show was, how long it ran,” Henderson said. “There’s good music, there’s dancing and singing, and there’s acting. It’s very entertaining.”
The Fort Macleod group will put its own stamp on “Nunsense” by adding a children’s choir, and ensemble for adults, and some dancers.
Laura Glover is musical director, Jenn Wolstenholme is stage manager, Tim Ranson is production supervisor, Joella Bevan is prop master and Denise Calderwood is in charge of costumes.
“There’s enough drama, there’s enough dancing and music, that anybody of any age will be entertained,” Henderson said. “There’s not a swear in it. It’s clean and not offensive in any way. We would never do anything that is going to be sacrilegious.”
Auditions began last week in the Green Room at the Empress Theatre, and Henderson was impressed by the quality of singers who want to lend their voices to “Nunsense.”
“We didn’t underestimate the community,” Henderson said. “We picked this musical because it was demanding.”
People are needed to fill a variety of behind-the-scenes duties in areas such as production assistants, stage managers and costumes.
To get involved, phone Erin Henderson at 403-553-2152.

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