The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company of SA (“The Met”) has a long reputation for providing good, solid entertainment. Their presentation of the “Off-Broadway” production of “Nunsense” does not disappoint.
Starting out as would you believe a line of “greeting cards”, the Nunsense concept expanded until it became a cabaret act, a full-length theatre production, and eventually two television specials and a hit recording. Its flexible nature means that it has been regularly played around the world in various formats and genres. This time around, The Met brings us “The Mega Musical Version”, meaning more nuns, two brothers and a big, full orchestra sound led expertly by well known Adelaide Musical Director Jane Feast.
The fun starts with the house lights on while a gaggle of nuns pervades the audience ringing a traditional school bell to herald the start of the show. Some audience members were heard to comment that it reminded them of their childhood experiences at their local Catholic Primary School assembly! The audience involvement is one of the highlights of the show, and it certainly starts as it means to continue. Director Selena Britz has deftly captured that sense of the familiar, and the cast happily chugs the show along with the audience right there with them.
The premise of the show is revealed right from the start. The nuns need to put on a variety show to raise money to get the last four of the fifty-two nuns killed by eating a bad vichyssoise out of the freezer and onto their “Heavenly Reward’. Therein, the oft used and very familiar “doing a show about doing a show” back story commences.
The lead role of Reverend Mother Mary Regina (head of the convent and former circus performer) is ably played by Eve MacMillan, displaying the excellent comic timing we have come to expect from her. Eve’s character is well supported by her 2IC Sister Mary Hubert, played by Trish Hendrick. Long-time Met stalwart Barbara Nutchey added her considerable dancing abilities to her role as Sister Mary Leo, bringing Adelaide icon Carmel Vistoli’s choreography to light. SA theatre veteran Elizabeth Slee was convincing and very funny as Sister Julia, the nun responsible for cooking the fatal soup.
There were two very noticeable stand out performances. Jacinta Vistoli was hilarious as Sister Robert Anne, setting up the show from the very start. Her audience communication smashed the fourth wall beyond repair and from that moment the audience was “there”. Her energy and sheer entertainment value cannot be overstated. Her performance had what can only be described as the “wow” factor. Vanessa Crouch gave us a Sister Mary Amnesia that stole our hearts. Her character was cute, funny and endearing, while her ad-libbing during the audience participation scenes was skilled and timely. She also managed to present a “double act” where she had seamless conversations and duo singing with a puppet. It was a well-executed demonstration of the theatre art of puppetry.
Supported by an able ensemble providing excellent harmonies, magic tricks, dancing and other mayhem, The Met’s production of Nunsense” offers a light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek take on convent life. Not to be taken too seriously, Nunsense gave the audience an entertaining escape into the world of the ridiculous and the “Nun-sensical”.