If you’re in the market for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of live musical theatre, run – don’t walk – to the Coast Capital Playhouse and catch Nunsense before it closes July 23.
This five-woman powerhouse of a show has it all – showstopping performances, fabulous singing and great ensemble work – in the format of a fictional fundraiser for a little-known order of Catholic nuns.
It’s a premise as preposterous as its burger-joint stage set, which, as the Mother Superior explains, is left over from a Grade 8 production of Grease; or the tainted vichysoisse incident which has left all but 19 of the Little Sisters of South Surrey dead from botulism.
While the order has been able to bury most of their dead, there are still four in the freezer awaiting burial – hence the need for five nuns, frustrated performers all, to “put on a show” to raise the necessary cash.
Dan Goggin’s witty book and lyrics and serviceable music have made the show a frequently-revived cult classic, and judging by this version, it’s not hard to see why.
It’s all irreverent, ridiculous and tremendous fun, as staged by Ryan Mooney, and performed with incredible energy by Janet Glassford, Celia Reid, Keri Smith, Nicole Stevens and Cathy Wilmot, with excellent support from musical director Vashti Fairbairn’s trio.
Mooney’s Vancouver-based Fighting Chance Productions seems to redefine community theatre with every show it attempts – by the simple expedient of setting the bar ever higher and not accepting that ‘amateur’ has to mean second-rate. And the White Rock Players are indeed fortunate to find themselves co-presenters of such a superior production this summer.
This is a show that is professional in every aspect – with the possible exception of the remuneration structure. Mooney’s direction doesn’t appear to miss a trick in maximizing entertainment value, and there are no weak links to be found in his superb cast of triple-threat players, several of whom are well-known to local audiences from Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society shows.
Glassford, as Mother Superior Mary Regina, has a wonderfully droll manner, a fine disapproving look through her metal-rimmed spectacles, and a priceless scene in which she samples an illicit substance, to somewhat alarming effect.
Reid, as Sister Mary Leo, a would-be ballerina, contributes a splendidly wacky sensibility to everything she does, particularly her hilarious send-ups of traditional ballet choreography.
Smith, as the aptly named Sister Mary Amnesia, has a spacey quality in the role that is utterly endearing – but shouldn’t take away from appreciation of her underlying vocal versatility.
South Surrey’s Stevens, as tough, streetwise Sister Mary Robert Anne, has many effective moments of broad comedy, but also demonstrates that she can make the most of quietly touching scenes and put over numbers with a punch.
Wilmot, as ambitious Sister Mary Hubert, is a born show-stopper, and spot-on in delivery and timing throughout the show, culminating in her driving lead of the show’s rousing gospel-style finale, in which she manages to nail every cliché of the idiom’s requisite vocal gymnastics.
Nunsense runs Wednesday to Saturday (8 p.m. performances, 2 p.m. Saturday matinee). Tickets: www.whiterockplayers.com or 604-536-7535.