(Honorary Patron: Vanessa Redgrave CBE)

Grayshott Stagers' production of

Nunsense: The Mega-Musical

April 2013
Nunsense

The cast
The cast
The Grayshott Stagers' latest production, Nunsense - The Mega Musical, is a show which does not immediately spring to mind. Neither does the name of Dan Goggin who wrote the book, music and lyrics. Therefore, it was a surprise to learn that this musical ran for over 3,600 performances on Broadway in the 1980s! The show is certainly not typical of Broadway musicals and it delivers an unexpected mixture of review, pantomime and comedy reminiscent of post-war British theatre. However, the show's wacky plot and the characters in it epitomise American-style humour. The Stagers' show was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of surprise and entertainment and they deserve congratulations for serving up another quality production.

Mary Annette
Sister Mary Amnesia with Sister Mary Annette
Set in New Jersey, the nuns from the church mission in the small town of Hoboken have experienced a calamitous event. Only 19 sisters, out playing bingo at the time, survived the sudden demise of the remaining 52 sisters struck down by a bowl of tainted vichyssoise. With so many being taken in 'one fell swoop', or to be more precise, 'one foul soup', burial costs have put considerable strain on the mission's financial resources. Further imprudent spending by the Reverend Mother in the purchase of a plasma TV has resulted in only sufficient funds to lay 48 sisters to rest; the remaining four residing in the mission's freezer! The threat of an impending visit by Hoboken's department of health has necessitated the surviving sisters to put on a variety show to raise further interment funds and this is when shenanigans start!

The 'Drive-In'
The 'Drive-In'
Nunsense followed the Stagers' highly successful production of Calendar Girls of last November. Apart from being comedy productions about the fund-raising activities of a group of women the shows are very different. Far from stripping down to the bare essentials seen in Calendar Girls, the ladies this time lost their modesty and decorum through irreligious wit and innuendo whilst fully garbed in habit and wimple. The fact that several cast members made an effortless transition between shows testifies to their considerable acting skills and the support they received from the production team. This show required careful direction and it certainly got this from Laura Musco directing her first show and from Rob Miller as musical director. They can be justly proud and satisfied for producing a first-rate show with high standards in all aspects.

Sister Robert Anne
Sister Robert Anne:
the 'Convent Miranda' look
From the all-female cast of 11, main responsibilities fell on the shoulders of five. Casting was spot on and enabled all five actresses to play to their strengths and excel in their roles. Jane Clayton as the Reverend Mother and Rachel Perkins as Sister Mary Hubert were a fine foil as bickering sisters, each guarding and vying for top spot respectively. The inter-play between them was well emphasised and this contributed greatly to the audience's enjoyment. Heather Legat as the street-wise Brooklyn tearaway Sister Robert Anne aching to 'be a star', certainly grabbed the limelight as she eked maximum audience response from every bit of humour. Susie Dean playing wacky Sister Mary Amnesia knocked into dopiness by a large falling crucifix, is a natural comedienne. Her ability to switch voices, moods and expressions was tested throughout the show and these she achieved with ease and she was a joy to watch. New-comer to the Stagers was Naomi Ahmed playing Sister Mary Leo, a novice nun with ambitions to be a ballerina. What a find she is! She sang and danced exquisitely!

The leading characters were strongly supported by the rest of the cast; Brezetta Thonger, Jennifer Charters, Pauline Harries, Melanie Tyrrell, Shirley Jelliss and Gloria Simpson. They were faultless in taking on cameo roles, singing and dancing, including a tap number. It was evident that much fun was had during rehearsals and this spilled over as an infectious enthusiasm on stage and added to the delight of the evening's entertainment.

As always with Stagers' shows, due attention was paid to costumes, properties and to the set and all areas of staging were achieved to very high standards. Congratulations to the band, notably attired as monks and nuns, (as were front of house staff), as their playing ideally complemented the singing and dancing. Well done The Stagers!

AJDB.

The set
The set


Copyright © 2013 AJDB & Tony Legat
Photographs © 2013 Peter Sillick
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