Sister´s Christmas Catechism -The Mystery of the Magi´s Gold

by DICK KEREKES
It was two hours of solid laughs, as the FCCJ Artist Series presented Sister's Christmas Catechism-The Mystery of the Magi's Gold at Wilson Center on the south campus of FCCJ. The show has two final performances on Sunday December 21 at 2 and 7 pm.
The show opens and we, the audience, become the students in a Catholic school at their holiday party. Before the party can begin, Sister (Mary Zentmyer) must give the lesson of the day about the Nativity in her very unique and hilarious way. Audience members have the opportunity to answer questions and win gifts. Now, since Sister is not reading this, I am going to give you a little hint so you can prepare for questions and get in on the big winning. Study up on the Saints, history of the Nativity and the details of Virgin Mary's family and life and you will ace this quiz!
The first half of the show, Sister , like a good teacher, disciplined the class for talking out turn, arriving late and ladies wearing clothing too daring and too tempting to the boys. Sister is well supplied with her cleavage covering hankies, so wear something modest when you go.
After an intermission, Sister sets out to solve the question that has haunted us for centuries. What happened to the gold the three wise men brought to the Christ child? She set the scene for the crime solving by creating a live Nativity on stage using volunteers plucked from the audience to play all the parts, including the sheep, ox, jackass, the three gift bearers, a shepherd, a little drummer boy and Mary and Joseph. Since this is a low budget show, they were quickly dressed improvised clothing like old curtains, lamp shades, rugs, and a toilet seat cover(the sheep's head gear!} I don't want to give Sister's sleuthing secrets away, but using a piece of string, a staple gun and brilliant logic, thanks to Sister you will at last learn who stole the gold!!!
By now you are asking? I am not Catholic, can I enjoy this show? Well, humor and nuns go together like birds of a feather. After all the musical Nunsence is now in its 35th annual tour of the USA and people of all denominations are still laughing at it. Later Nite Catechism, written by the same playwright, Maripat Donovan, was a bit hit here a few years ago. Anyway, Sister is an equal opportunity offender, and besides picking on the Catholics, she does forget the Baptist, Episcopalians, Jews, and a few others as well.
The set is school room complete with a blackboard and of course the teachers desk plus a Christmas Tree with various colorful gift bags that that contain the "expensive" costumes.(Yes, THEY DRESS RIGHT ON THE STAGE).
Six FCCJ students make up a chorus that apparently changes with each show (be careful if they catch you in the hallway, you might up singing.) Well known local musician Ellen Milligan, plays the piano, leading the group in what else, Christmas carols. (You are invited to sing along). Local actor Matt Mercurio, dressed in reindeer antlers, is the prop boy and assistant dresser assisting Sister.
How many times have you attended a performance and heard the announcement, no photography allowed? Ah, Sister encourages photography during the Nativety scene (something about the magic of the flash?), so bring you camera and snap away. After the performance, Sister will be at the door to shake your hand, if you so desire and most did. This is a great photo opportunity.
This is the basic show, but no two shows will be alike, because the razor sharp Mary Zentmyer is great at improvising and adlibbing, and who knows what, is going to come out of her mouth but it is bound to be funny.
Wilson Center for the Arts is the perfect venue for this imitates show, with plenty of well lit parking a short distance away. Call 632 3373 for reservations or check on line at www.artistseries.fccj.org. Sister's Christmas Catechism can be enjoyed by the whole family, and is the perfect early Christmas gift for everyone.

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