Theatre West Presents
A Musical Comedy by Dan Goggin

Produced by John Gallogly

Betty Garrett, Bridget Hanley, Barbara Mallory,
Lee Meriwether, Rhonda Stovey and Sandra Tucker

Call 323-851- 4839 or E-Mail to book Nunsense for your Theatre!


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Friday January 28, 2005


Sporting new scipture and verse, the born-again “Nunsense” at Theatre West is an answer to the prayers of – well, “Nunsense” worshippers, at least. With writer/creator Dan Goggin at the director’s helm, we can certainly take this version – revisions and all – as gospel.

Unapologetically silly as ever, and strewn with groaners and bad puns (“St. Francis was a sissy”), Goggins satire about a quintet of nuns from Hoboken putting on a fundraising talent show in a high school gym is the kind of send0up only someone heavily steeped in Catholicism could dream up. Viewers of all faiths, however, will find the laughs come with little penance to be paid in this amiable revival.

This time, Goggin added dialogue and a new song after Broadway and TV veteran (and Theatre West board member) Betty Garrett expressed interest in joining the production. To make room for her, Goggin penned an onstage visitation from the previously unseen Sister Julia, Child of God, a hapless cook whose botuislm-laced vichyssoise accelerated the heavenly ascension of most o the convernt. An ageless trouper, Garrett is amusingly dotty and tap dances with miraculous aplomb.

As the even more scatter-brained nun with no memory of her past, Barbara Mallory’s gem of a performance makes Sister Mary Amnesia not only funny but endearing. Speaking in tongues (however firmly in cheek) Lee Meriwether adopts a Joisey accent for Sister Robert Anne, the star-struck nun from the wrong side of the tracks. Adding to the fun are Bridget Hanley’s emotive “Dying Nun Ballet,” Sandra Tucker’s stern Mother Superior giddily succumbing to the fumes of airplane glue and Rhonda Stovey belting out the “Holier Than Thou” finale.

For all its reveling in Catholicism’s foibles, what keeps “Nunsense” from becoming mean-spirited is Goggin’s obvious underlying affection for the structure and stability his upbringing provided. Meriwether’s “Growing Up Catholic” number at the start of Ac Two suspends satire to express that sentiment with heartfelt sincerity. -- Philip Brandes

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Writer-director Dan Goggin focuses on the whacked-out antics of some feisty nuns with bad habits, the Little Sisters of Hoboken. They’re decimated when a dinner prepared by the convent’s cook, Sister Julia Child of God (Betty Garrett), proves fatal for 52 of the sisters. Since Sister Mary Regina (Sandra Tucker) spent part of the insurance money on a DVD player, there are no funds to bury the last four dead sisters. How do they solve this dilemma? By putting on a show, of course, full of high-kicking nuns, and numbers like “Tackle That Temptation With a Time Step” and “The Dying Nun Ballet.”

The sisters include scatterbrained Sister Mary Amnesia (Barbara Mallory), the balletically inclined Sister Mary Leo (Bridget Hanley), stage-struck Sister Robert Anne (Lee Meriwether), and Sister Mary Hubert (Rhonda Stovey), a graduate of the St. Peter in Chains Elementary School.

The humor ranges from the outrageous to the primitive, but it’s undeniably funny. Goggin keeps things moving at a merry clip, and the six likeable ladies acquit themselves splendidly. Octogenarian Garrett proves she can still do a mean tap routine, and Tucker performs an inspired comic riff as the Mother Superior who gets stoned by sniffing a bottle of Rush left in the school restroom. Theater West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 6. (323) 851-7977. Written 01/27/2005 (Neal Weaver)

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The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings

Nunsense is to nuns what Grease is to high schools. It seems highly appropriate that the set for the latter is the set for the former, the conceit being that Grease is being performed by the students at the school run by The Little Sisters of Hoboken. The Desperate Sisters have usurped the set for an emergency fund-raiser for a reason more ghoulish than girlish. This frothy revue with its vaudevillesque double-entendres reveals the repressed aspirations of the singing sisters. It premiered off-Broadway in 1985 and has had a healthy life on the road ever since.

The raison d'être for the current production at Theatre West is a new character, song and dance by creator/director Dan Groggin for Betty Garrett. Sister Julia, Child of God, was only mentioned in the original version. Garrett plays the elderly sister and chef, who inadvertently poisoned most of the order, with delicious comic charm. She's ably supported by Lee Meriwetherr as Sister Robert Anne who presents characters such as Sister Hiawatha by hilarious twists of her veil; Bridget Hanley, who plays tutu-mad ballerina Sister May Leo with irrepressible yearning; radiant Rhonda Stovey as Sister Mary Hubert; Barbara Mallory, who gives squeaky comic relief to Sister Mary Amnesia ; and Sandra Tucker, wry and crisp as the unsuperior mother, Sister Mary Regina.

Snidely choreographed by Deborah Del Mastro on a Grease-perfect set by Joseph M. Altadonna and Daniel Keough, Nunsense plays until March 6 at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard West, Phone: (323) 851-7977. -- Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on January 20, 2005

Betty Garrett in Nunsense








Betty Garrett and Lee Meriwether

Bridget Hanely and Sandra Tucker

Rhonda Stovey and Barbara Mallory


The hilarious "Dying Nun" sequence.