Book, Music & Lyrics by Dan Goggin
Barn Theatre, Oxted, Surrey
Wednesday 21st to Saturday 24th June 2006
‘Nunsense’ is a hilarious talent show staged by five survivors at the Little Sisters of Hoboken nunnery, the rest of the sisterhood having succumbed to botulism after eating vichyssoise prepared by Sister Julia! The remaining ‘Little Hobos’ parade their talents at a variety show staged to raise funds so that the last four of the dearly departed can be buried.
The musical score pulses with merriment and an unabashed desire to make you laugh, with songs and spontaneous comic interludes paced at break-neck speed. Amid the merriment is a riotous audience participation quiz that has everyone rolling in the aisles.
Winner of the Outer Critics’ Circle awards for the best Off Broadway musical, best book and best music, ‘Nunsense’ offers a cornucopia of hilarity for the whole family, proving conclusively that nun rhymes with fun!
Nunsense was produced by Richard Allen and directed by Martin Patrick. Ian Skipper joined us for the first time as Musical Director and our Choreographers were Jolene and Sophie Kiddle.
As a result of this production, The Barnstormers own a ‘Sister Mary Annette’ puppet specially handmade for them by Pady Blackwood, the puppet designer for the original off-Broadway production of ‘Nunsense’. This puppet is available for hire by other amateur theatre groups. Please contact Richard Allen at email@example.com
Producer: Richard Allen
Director: Martin Patrick
Musical Director: Ian Skipper
Choreographers: Jolene & Sophie Kiddle
Set Design: Bruce Reed
Stage Manager: Malcolm Le Croissette
Set Painter Patrick Tricker
Lighting Designer: Carolyn Rowley
Sound Technician: Paul Knight
Video Production: Matthew Patrick
Wardrobe Mistress: Teresa Skinner
Properties Master: Muriel Lister
Sister Mary Regina: Teresa Skinner
Sister Mary Hubert: Fiona Steel
Sister Robert Anne: Cathy Longhurst
Sister Mary Amnesia: Natasha Palmer
Sister Mary Leo: Elizabeth Skinner
Piano / Conductor: Ian Skipper
Keyboard 2: Simon James
Reeds: Jane Rhind
Drums & Percussion: Drew Brooke-Mellor
Theo Spring - Croydon Advertiser - 30th June 2006
‘Nunsense’ - The Barn Theatre, Oxted - *****
Take an unbelieveable plot, five singing nuns, a host of unusual musical numbers and some tongue-in-cheek comedy – mix together, and you do not have Sister Julia’s poisonous Vichyssoise soup but a superb evening’s entertainment.
The aforementioned soup has killed 52 of the nuns at the Little Sisters of Hoboken convent. Forty-eight have been buried but there’s no cash to bury the remaining four because the Reverend Mother has further depleted the convent’s finances by buying a home entertainment system with surround sound and big woofers.
So the four nuns’ bodies have been placed (reverently) in the deep freeze until funds accumulate.
A show is proposed and it is this, with all its ups and downs of show business, that we share.
Finding five actresses with voices which do all the songs justice, to say nothing of some really spine-tingling harmony must have answered any prayer that Barnstormers director Martin Patrick may have uttered, aided, no doubt by the show’s producer Richard Allen.
Each nun has her own talent (in reality as well as in the show) with Natasha Palmer as Sister Mary Amnesia bringing in comedy at a professional level and going country in the superbly sung I Could’ve Gone to Nashville. Sister Mary Leo (Elizabeth Skinner) is the dancing nun and Sister Robert Anne (Cathy Longhurst) does wonders with an alter-ego nun glove puppet (Ed: I think you’ll find that was Natasha!)
Mother Superior (Teresa Skinner) turns well from a commanding figure to a clown with a couple of sniffs of ‘something in a bottle’ and Fiona Steel makes much of being second in command as Sister Hubert.
A zany set, inventive programme notes, bright choreography from (real) sisters Jolene and Sophie Kiddle and Ian Skipper’s lively band all help to earn the show its five stars – and the video, produced by Matthew Patrick was the icing on the cake.
Tony Flook - Surrey Mirror - June 2006
It was disaster for the Little Sisters of Hoboken when their cook killed off most of them with her lethal vichyssoise soup. It was good news for theatregoers in Oxted when, as a result, some of the surviving nuns has to stage a concert to raise much needed funds.
The five performers treated full houses to a scintillating series of loosely linked cabaret acts as they showed us their diverse talents, together with a glimpse of the backstage antics and disagreements from which even nuns aren't immune. They won the audience over by involving them from the start and throughout - possibly the only surprise was that no-one was dragged on stage to help out.
Sister Mary Regina (Teresa Skinner), the Mother Superior, ruled her team like a benevolent dictator but lost credibility when she naively sniffed a drug, losing the plot in a masterfully timed and built episode. She featured in several numbers and shone strongly in her solo, Turn Up the Spotlight, then led the hot gospel finale, Holier than Thou.
Sister Mary Hubert, aka Fiona Steel, her second in charge, was always ready to get a dig in at her boss, until they put aside their differences and became Just a Coupl'a Sisters.
Streetwise Sister Robert Anne, played by Cathy Longhurst, pleaded I Just Want to be a Star as she manoeuvred to get herself upgraded from understudy to leading lady. She also made an impact in one of the shows more reflective numbers, Growing Up Catholic.
Natalie Palmer, as Sister Mary Amnesia, stopped the show in a hilarious double-act with a ventriloquist's dummy and belted out her country & western number I Could've Gone to Nashville, with raucous enthusiasm.
Elizabeth Skinner, the novice Sister Mary Leo, showed her passion for dancing in The Dying Nun ballet sequence, courtesy of Tchaikovsky.
The group numbers were as impressive as the solos - none better than when a trio gave out an Andrews Sisters-style In the Drive In or a quartet showed their tap dancing paces to Tackle that Temptation.
Continuity was faultless and it was apparent that director Martin Patrick and the cast had rehearsed every incident meticulously.
Ian Skipper and his band gave perfect support throughout - unfortunately offstage and unseen, even in their curtain call.
The standing ovation at the end was well-deserved recognition of the entertainment value of this production.