by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
OPCT opened its 43rd season with Dan Goggin’s musical comedy “Meshuggah-Nuns,” which translates roughly as ‘Crazy Nuns.’ The show runs through September 29 at their theatre at 2900 Moody Avenue in Orange Park.
A few words about composer Dan Goggin. If Dan Goggin were a stock that you had invested in back in 1983 when he debuted his first and most popular ‘Nunsense,” you would find yourself very happy today; he has created eight sequels that have all been moneymakers.
The latest installment of the Little Sister of Hoboken saga has four of them on the “Faiths of All Nations Cruise.” An extended storm at sea had made everyone terribly seasick, except for the four nuns and Howard (David Warber), an entertainer who was supposed to play Tevye in the on board show “Fiddler on the Roof.” The seas are calm now and there are cruise ship passengers to please, but unfortunately, the remainder of the cast remains indisposed.
The Cruise Director (Sally DeBorde) and her able assistant (Kyle Dobson) have arranged for Howard and the four nuns to put a variety show, very similar to the one in the original production of “Nunsense.” That is it, the whole plot, no need to keep track of what is going on, just sit back, laugh, sing along, and enjoy two hours of this undemanding good-time musical that the almost full house audience thoroughly enjoyed and showered with enthusiastic applause and laughter.
Reverend Mother Mary Regina(Brenda Cohn), Sister Mary Hubert (Yolanda Olmstead), Sister Mary Paul (Shiloh Fuscello), and Sister Robert Ann (Megan Georgeo) danced, sang, and told jokes with gusto, all the while smiling, with grins wide enough to make every dentist in North Florida happy.
David Warber is the charming Howard, and he as well sings and dances up a storm while matching the four nuns joke for joke. Mr. Warber has become a favorite of the Dual Critics since his marvelous performance as Teddy in “Arsenic and Old Lace” last season.
You won’t be humming any of the Goggin’s sixteen original songs, but they are a lot of fun. Two of them are take offs on Fiddler songs. “Contrition” uses the same melody as “Tradition” and “If I Were a Catholic” will remind you of “If I Were a Rich Man.”
Brenda Cohn does a Sophie Tucker imitation, singing the hilarious song “My Fat is My Fortune.” At least we think it was an impersonation; we aren’t old enough to remember Tucker who made her last film in 1944 and died in 1966..
Ms. Olmstead, Ms.Fuscello, and Ms.Georgeo were at their very best as a trio in the very lively tune, “The Shayna Maidels.”
Audience participation was encouraged in a few numbers and as an audience we did pretty well when we had cue cards with the lyrics, although only a couple of brave souls dared to get up and dance “The Patchy Polka.” There is a fair share of jokes about the Catholic and Jewish religions, but all good natured and fun. Be sure to pay close attention when Sister Mary Paul does her magic show. You will have the opportunity to win prizes.
Musical Director Tim Deborde had his cruise band right on stage and Charlie Mann on Keyboard and J. C. Cochran on drums played to perfection.
The set featured a mural by Elizabeth DiGeorgio with the shoreline of a tropical island. Director Sara Green designed the set that included a couple of panels with portholes, a rustic hut at the side built for “Fiddler” that was used for multiple purposes, and a set piece designed as a ship’s bar.
The costumes included traditional habits for the nuns, often enhanced with interesting headpieces and overskirts in folk prints. Warbler appeared in Teyve’s peasant vest and trousers, while the musicians wrote tropical shirts.
Director and Choreographer Sara Greene has done a wonderful job in casting and bringing this lively show to the stage. Meshuggah-Nuns was refreshingly fun , and In fact, we had to remind ourselves at times that we weren’t actually on a cruise ship.
Your religious education would not be complete without a visit to Meshuggah-Nuns!!! Don’t miss it. For reservations and additional information, visit www.opct.org or call 276-2599.
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM