THEATER REVIEW: “Nunsense” @ the Heart Theatre, 10/13/18

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The entire cast of “Nunsense” at the Heart Theatre in Berlin

Review and photographs by Amy Modesti

What is life truly like for a Catholic nun living in a convent?! What if you had other aspirations that you wanted to accomplish if you weren’t a nun?! Can Catholic nuns save the world?!

The audience at the Heart Theatre in Berlin was immersed in the Catholic life portrayed in the captivating, charming and funny musical comedy, Nunsense, by Dan Goggin. Produced by the Advocare Foundation Ltd. and directed by Karen Webster (musical director), Gwenfair Phippen (theater director) and Craig Mosher (technical director), Nunsense not only incorporated constant interaction amongst the audience and the actresses throughout the performance, it was also comedic and had their full house audience laughing the entire time on opening night.

Starring Clari Derosia (Reverend Mother), Cristi Lamontagne (Sister Hubert), Karen Roberts (Sister Amnesia), Ingrid Schaaphok (Sister Robert Anne) and Madison Snyder (Sister Leo), Nunsense reminded me of being on a set of the plays-turned-feature-films, Sister Act and Grease. The stage setting, consisting of a bar stool and chairs, a ’50s-style jukebox, a bed with a covered up “risqué” photo of Marilyn Monroe, and a Grease poster with a checkered wall, set the tone in the Heart Theatre (actually inside the former Church of the Sacred Heart) perfectly and made me feel like I was in a scene in both of those shows, but with a modern twist, with hints of a smart TV and other forms of 21st century technology.

Set in Hoboken, each nun has a goal to come up with a way to raise the money to bury the remaining nuns that were killed from food poisoning by creating their own greeting card business and buying a camcorder and a VCR, thinking that it could help burying their members. However, that decision was a failure, and there was little money left in their budget to pay for those funds. Also, the church had received a health summons from the board of health telling them they needed to clean their freezer. Otherwise, they were at risk of closing the church. Once the nuns realize that Sister Amnesia regains her true identity – Sister Mary Paul, an aspiring country singer and the winner of the Publisher’s Clearing House – the church is saved, Amnesia recovers her memory, and the nuns rejoice that they are now able to save their church and reveal their true aspirations; to become a circus acrobat, a country singer, a tap dancer, a ballet dancer, and a nun that reminiscences on how her life has changed since becoming a nun, and at times, is inspired to become the wicked witch of the west (homage to “The Wizard of Oz”).

Each of the actresses throughout the two acts remained true to their characters in their short song skits within the acts and still even remained in character both on and off stage. After the intermission, the nuns were collecting the traditional tithe that you would collect during a Catholic mass to receive money donations for the organization. They interacted very well with the audience as well, even giving select audience members a consolation prize (rosary beads and a religious card) after answering quiz questions by Sister Amnesia during the first act and even getting other audience members to dance with them to certain songs as well. The interaction amongst the audience, actresses and the band was well received throughout the entire evening.

For my first time attending a musical theatrical performance at the Heart Theatre, I had found Nunsense to be both funny and entertaining. I was amused and entertained by a great supporting cast, great directing, and a great supporting band that was able to back the actresses up on stage all evening. Nunsense, according to The New York Times, is “a lively, non-stop musical,” and I can truly see why that statement holds true to this iconic off-Broadway show.

Nunsense will continue its run at the Heart Theatre on Friday & Saturday (October 19 & 20) at 7pm. Admission is FREE.
, 2018. The performance will take place at 7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. For more information about the Advocare Foundation Ltd. and their upcoming events, go to http://www.theadvocarefoundationltd.org.

Cristi Lamontagne portraying Sister Hubert (on left) with Clari Derosia (as Reverend Mother) at the Heart Theatre in Berlin, NY Saturday, October 13, 2018.
Karen Roberts portraying “Sister Amnesia” and holding her puppet,
“Sister Mary Annette” during act 1 inside the Heart Theatre in Berlin, NY, Saturday, October 13, 2018.
From left-right, Sister Amnesia (Karen Roberts), Sister Leo (Madison Snyder), and Sister Robert Anne (Ingrid Schaaphok) dancing with feather boas and feather fans during the second act of Nunsense at the Heart Theatre in Berlin, NY, Saturday, October 13, 2018.Â

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