by Terrance Mc Arthur
Wouldn’t you like to go and see a funny, silly musical on a stage again, a show where there’s singing and dancing and comedy, but the world has been closed down for over a year? Guess what? The Good Company Players are back on Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater stage with Nunsense.
After the recent In the Meantime cabaret programs, GCP is back in business, thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Roosevelt High School Class of 1970, which paid for Nunsense’s royalties, fees paid to publishers to put on the show (Bet you didn’t know how much it costs to produce a musical, did you?). The audience must show vaccination or recent testing proof, and must wear masks when not at their tables. Wearing a mask is the way to keep small businesses in business, so we do it.
The Little Sisters of Hoboken is a convent where fifty-two nuns recently died from a bad batch of vichyssoise. To raise money for the final four burials of the cadavers filling a freezer, five of the nineteen surviving sisters stage a variety show at the Mt. St. Helen’s School run by the order. Things don’t always go as planned (What did you expect?), which is the source of much mirth.
Director/choreographer Laurie Pessano has assembled a Murderer’s Row of powerhouse performers to fill the five-woman cast.
Elizabeth Fiester is imperious, cranky, and a cut-up as Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior with a past that makes her long for the spotlight. She has a great moment as an accidental stoner. Fiester is also a great director, but it is always a treat to see her taking the stage to such effect.
Janet Glaudé has graced GCP productions with her talent for decades, and she shines as Sister Mary Hubert the Mistress of the Novices, especially in a song-and-dance number with Fiester, and with the gospel-styled “Holier Than Thou,” where she weaves, wails, and scats in and out of the melody and harmonies. What a delight!Camille Gaston’s brassy and ambitious, second-in-command nun owes some debt to her leading role in GCP’s Sister Act. It’s broader, and you learn all sorts of imitations you can do with a nun’s wimple headdress. Gaston has always been a dynamo, but she has grown to be a whole powerhouse.
Dorie Sanders exudes a clear sweetness as a novice of the order, who wants to be a ballerina-nun, with aspirations to Mother Superior-hood. She dances “en pointe,” sings with bell-like clarity, and smiles winningly.
Then there’s Sister Mary Amnesia, a spacey nun missing memories. Emily Pessano, a go-to performer whose repertoire stretches from Disney to ABBA to Monty Python, sings up a storm, jokes, and runs a game-show quiz that interacts with audience members.
Is there a stand-out in the production? Yes. The cast.
Because of pandemic restrictions, the Junior Company preshow is an elite corps of vaccinated, sixteen-and-older young singers presenting songs that are lessons learned: “We Are Family,” “What a Wonderful World,” “Stand By Me,” and more.
This show has old jokes, touches of the risqué, and gasp-worthy harmonies. Nunsense plays through July 11 at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, 1226 N. Wishon, in Fresno. Tickets can be purchased on their website or by calling the box office at (559) 266-9494.
As they say in the show, “Nunsense is Habit Forming!”
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.
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