Review: The Nunsense musical

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courtesy the community players

From Feb. 20 to 23, 2020, Conrad Grebel University College and Aha! Productions presented Nunsense: Off Broadway’s Heavenly Hit Musical. 

This musical was spiritually zany, hilarious, and just flat out nonsense. 

All proceeds went to the “Fill the Table” campaign for the kitchen and dining room expansion in Conrad Grebel University College. 

It was quite fitting for a show about nuns putting on a show to fundraise money to bury four of their dead sisters so they can clear the freezer so they don’t get caught with a health infraction – yes, you read that right.

Penned and first directed by Dan Goggin in 1985, the nonsensical story of five nuns (Sister Mary Leo, Sister Mary Amnesia, Sister Robert Anne, Sister Mary Hubert, and Reverend Mother) is eventful but straightforward. 

The aforementioned nuns (as well as other off-stage nuns) were forced to leave a leper colony because they lost a race, so they came to New Jersey where they formed the ‘Little Sisters of Hoboken’. 

Fast forward to the present, where the nun quintet take part in a bingo game with a group of Maryknolls and come home to find their other sisters dead after eating poisoned soup made by chef Sister Julia, Child of God (cue The Last Supper jokes). 

The rest of the show is a semi-self-aware musical in which the nuns do break the fourth wall to present music numbers, choreography, a cooking show, and even an audience engaging quiz. 

The set is designed to look like a middle-school was performing the musical Grease, and the Sisters promised to not alter it. The execution of this musical was phenomenal. 

Lisa Hagen directed this presentation of Nunsense with nothing short of class and professionalism – it was like watching an actual musical in New York or Toronto. All five members of the cast were exceptionally talented and engaging as they graced the stage with finesse and high energy, being able to act, dance, sing, and go right back to acting without breaking a sweat or being out of breath. I was amazed at how authentic their performance was, as they never broke character from the audience warm-up before the show even started, to after the intermission and all the way to the end of the show. The improvisation skills of these actresses were also a gift to witness as they had to engage the audience with the pre-show warm up, fourth wall breaking during many points throughout the show, and proctoring an audience quiz. Again, all while not breaking character for a single beat. It was as if they were truly nuns, and the personalities they portrayed were actually who they were.

It is also important to note that all of the music was done live. This just adds to the class, professionalism, authenticity of this production, doing right by the roots of Nunsense and how it was meant to be presented. 

I am glad that an audio soundtrack was opted for, because live music is something that I really enjoy, and it just makes a musical much more engaging since you can actually feel the vibrations of every note being played. 

As a matter of fact, all of the talent that was involved in Nunsense is KW based, and it’s just remarkable how much talent can be found in this city, as well as how great a platform these shows are for these individuals to shine and showcase their talents.

Nunsense was an amazing two hours. From the authentic and energized performance of the actresses, to the live performance of the band. 

Not only was it an enticing show to be an audience member for, but it was all for the “Fill the Table” campaign, which raised funds for the dining room and kitchen expansion at Conrad Grebel University. 

A great show for a great cause, it doesn’t get any better than this. 

I rate it a well-deserved five out of five stars.

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