“Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical” is the perfect tonic for PTCSS – Post Traumatic Catholic School Syndrome.
It may seem like a “Hee Haw” version of “Sister Act,” but this show hit home like spiked holiday punch with an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd Tuesday in Savannah Center. It runs through Thursday and most of the tickets are gone.
The giddy audience laughed, clapped and had as much fun as mischievous students at recess in Mount Saint Helen’s School. That’s the name of the fictional school and convent in the musical written by Dan Goggin. The show is a holiday sequel to his original play, “Nunsense.”
The school was populated with Sister Robert Anne, Carolyn Hoffman; Sister Mary Paul (aka Amnesia), Holly Jeske; Sister Leo, Mollie McCarthy; and Sister Hubert, Billie Thatcher. Bob Stehman – who directed this corny but rambunctious Christmas party – plays Father Virgil, while the ever-engaging and larger-than-life Bonnie Williams took a turn as Mother Superior.
And, as the Beatles might say, “Mother Superior jumped the gun.” Williams was a hoot all night long, particularly when she twirled a parasol and cut loose like Sophie Tucker on “A Carnival Christmas.”
And let’s not forget the kids who had to face the nuns. The four scene- stealers from The Villages Charter School are Ethan Adams-Rae, MaKenzie Rees, Josie McDonald and Noah Winslett.
They were not only cute but talented. They really shined during a sort of “Fractured Fairy Tales” version of “The Nutcracker.” And they also teamed up for a charming “Santa’s Little Teapot.”
The plot of the musical goes something like this: The sisters of Saint Helen’s are broadcasting their first Cable Access television special. So, they get together in the convent’s basement studio with zany results.
Put it all together and you have a spaced-out look at Catholic school and traditions. And there’s something universal about goofing on the madness of the holiday season.
“In the words of my sainted mother – don’t make me kill you so close to Christmas,” Williams said early on. The musical opened with a frolicking number titled “Christmas Time Is Nunsense Time.”
Before the nuns took the stage, they walked through the audience greeting and blessing those seated.
Sister Mary Paul (Holly Jeske) returned to the audience later on. She sang the number “Secret Santa.” Among the gifts she dished out was a “scratch-and-sniff” manger filled with animal odors.
Another goofy moment came with “Twelve Days Prior To Christmas,” where three sisters sang how “Santa came down with the flu” and “Rudolph’s nose turned blue.”
Just when you thought this was all Christmas humbug, Stehman came along to change the mood. He sang a touching song, “The Christmas Box,” defining the true spirit of love the holiday brings.
Stehman also appeared in a nun’s habit and showed off his ballet moves with a tutu.
Later, there was a Christmas sing-a-long with the audience and one song that seemed to express the spirt of the season: “It’s Better To Give.”
“Nuncrackers…” was produced for Smash Productions by Susan Feinberg and Carolyn Hoffman. Kevin O’Connell is musical director, with Barbara Byers as choreographer. A portion of the proceeds is being donated to Villagers for Veterans and Patriot Service Dogs.
Tony Violanti is a veteran journalist and writes for Villages-News.com.