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Nuncrackers
a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL


COMPANY : Theatre On Main [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 3606

SHOWING : Unknown - December 24, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Shows Sat Dec 19-8pm Wed Dec 23-8PM and Dec 24 =2:30 last performance.


CAST & CREW LIST
Music Director Hayley Tanner
"Breanne" Breanne Fain
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Still Non-Habit Forming
by Dedalus
Thursday, December 24, 2009
3.0
A few months ago, I confessed to a predisposition to be less than amused by various productions of “Nunsense.” There has been a collection-plate full of sequels that I have managed to avoid until now. So, here we have “Nuncrackers,” another “show” by the Little Sisters of Hoboken.

At the risk of coming across like a Scrooge, I still find the concept strained, the jokes a lot less funny than they should be, the songs generally forgettable, and the whole thing condescending (if not downright insulting) to Nuns and Catholics.

On the other hand, the small audience I saw this with generally had a good time, so maybe I am just a Scrooge at heart.

Like “Nunsense” before it, “Nuncrackers” is set up as a fund- (and Nun-) raising “entertainment,” with no through-story involved. This time, a fortuitous lottery ticket has given the Nuns the means to build their own in-convent studio, from which they are broadcasting (via public access cable TV) their Christmas special, a habit-and-tutu rendition of “The Nutcracker.” Let’s pause right here. Does anyone ANYONE think that’s a good idea? The only thing more condescending and demeaning would be if they took a priest, made him drunk, and put a tutu on him! Wait a minute …

I also found egregiously contrived a second act number in which the city-smart Sister Robert Anne recalls a childhood Christmas show in which she imagines her wayward Daddy coming back to rejoin the family for one Christmas. To say I found this sequence unconvincing, out-of-character and blatantly manipulative would be an understatement.

This script so many other mis-steps, it’s difficult to keep the list to a few. A final song that would be more appropriate in a Baptist revival (just like the original “Nunsense"), an-out-of-place “commercial” for “Nun-Scents” perfume, a character (the novice Sister Mary Leo) disappearing from the script in the opening moments and not even returning for a curtain call, a by-the-numbers sequence in which the priest shares some recipes while getting progressively drunker, a collection of “students” who add nothing to the production other than distracting (in in full view) upstage crosses from wing to wing.

If it’s not obvious at this point, I think this is a simply awful play.

And yet, it’s not that awful a production. Credit for all the entertainment value has to go to the cast, who tackle their roles with an almost religious fervor. I thoroughly enjoyed their ad-libbed dialogue with the audience (it was certainly better than any lines scripted for them), and they did make some of the strained sequences work (up to a point). Kathy Manning’s Reverend Mother was all starch and authority, yet with an obvious affection for the Nuns under her command. Rene’ Voige was a nicely innocent Sister Mary Paul (Sister Amnesia, as you may recall) in spite of an irritatingly phony squeak in her voice, and brought out most of my laughs for the evening. I liked Anita Stratton’s Sister Robert Anne until that Act II exercise in maudlin excess, and Greta Glenn’s Sister Mary Hubert was as good as the rest. I would have liked to see more of Eileen Fulford’s Sister Mary Paul, but less of Michael Siedschlag’s Father Virgil, though, again, I blame the script much more than the actor. As the students, Breanne Fain, Eliott Grenier, Kallie Dever, and Elijah Grenier, filled out the stage and the choral sound nicely.

If the musical direction was hit-or-miss, if the choreography was up and down simplistic, if the sets and lighting were little more than adequate, what does it matter? This is a play you’ll either love or hate. Since I obviously belong in the latter category, there’s little else to be said. Only to say this is less a play than a “product” designed to cash in on the “Nunsense” franchise.

Since I rate the script a “D-“ and the production a “B+”, I’ll average that out to a basic “C” for the show.

As a final comment, let me just ask those of you who laughed throughout this one question – Would you be laughing as hard if it were the Sanders Family preacher getting drunk and putting on that tutu? If it’s any consolation, I wouldn’t find that particularly funny either.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)




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