St. Paul Pioneer Press - 11/30/01

-Michael Phillips

Show-Biz Nuns Prove They Still Have Mass Appeal

This brisk, beautifully cast world premiere edition of the new Christmas “Nunsense” show will likely prove Goggin can still put the “moola” in “formoola”.

It’s Christmas-special time. Broadcasting from the convent basement, the sisters plan a version of “The Nutcracker,” among other diversions, along with on-air advertisements for the Catholic Home Shopping Network.

As in the first “Nunsense” Goggin’s songs remain peppy …but Goggin the writer couldn’t ask for more than Goggin the director. He and choreographer Felton Smith have an unerring way of zinging from one moment to the next.

The Chanhassen Theatre production is utter-ly solid in musical terms, thanks to arranger Leo P. Carusome and the four-piece “Nuncrackers” band. The on-stage and on-air talent is great fun. Mary Grant’s exuberantly cranky Sister Mary Regina and Deborah Del Mastro’s Brooklynese Sister Robert Anna lead the tip-top ensemble, varying the big, broad stuff with welcome subtlety. But ever is worth having. Kin Yarbrough plays Sister Hubert (once again getting the 11 o’clock number, a gospel inflected rouser). Amy Silverman googles her way through the role of Sister Mary Paul (Amnesia). Richard Long plays Fr. Virgil, required at one point to don The Outfit when filling in for the absent Sister Julia, Child of God, in a rum-soaked cooking demonstration. The staging couldn’t be much better. The laughs remain miraculously steady.

“Catholic vaudeville” is what Julia Sweeney of “Saturday Night Live” called the whole “Nunsense” series, and certainly Goggin wouldn’t argue. Vaudeville, however, is dead. This series is very much alive.