Set six weeks after the success of their first hit review and meant to be a Thank You Program, Nunsense 2 brings back Sister Mary Regina (Reverend Mother), Sister Mary Hubert, Sister Robert Anne, Sister Mary Paul (Amnesia) and novice Sister Mary Leo to Mount St Helen’s School hall as they journey through the highs and lows of bingo, showbiz, audience participation and talent scouts. After Reverend Mother had sworn- well made comment in print, she would never swear- that she was not interested in being on stage again, they were all back in the habit in Hoboken (via Doncaster) last Friday night.
Phoenix Theatre Company has resurrected the same cast for Nunsense 2 The Second Coming as their production of Nunsense in November last year. Led by Dot Parker as the beleaguered Reverend Mother, who has to contend with a small but committed band of fellow nun performers who all still want to have their time in the spotlight, the show is reliant on her ability to keep the nuns in check. She may be small in stature but Reverend Mother has them all under control and still manages to belt out a song or three. Dot does a great job keeping the show moving and she really does belt out those songs.
Sister Hubert, the second in command, was Victoria Zainal’s alter ego and she and Reverend Mother had a very interesting time towards the end of Act 1 drinking a little ‘well water’. Victoria gave Sister Hubert a very down to earth feel and I just loved her very ‘nun like’ sensible shoes.
Natalie Silsbury was again the very streetwise Robert Anne, the tough yet very likeable, slightly out of control, nun. Natalie really does have a great voice and was in fine form, particularly in her solo work. Carla Zerbi was again the deluded ballerina nun and this time she has a twist to her solo- a very Xanadu moment.
Katrina Packer was Sister Mary Paul, affectionately known as Amnesia because in the first show she can’t remember who she is due to amnesia. Even though she now remembers, Amnesia/Mary Paul is still delightfully dippy and Katrina carries the role off beautifully. Her cowboy boots and country and western outfit was typical of Amnesia. Her calling of the Bingo game was also a real highlight.
There was an obvious camaraderie amongst the cast and they looked like they were enjoying every minute on stage. Friday was a very warm night and full marks to the girls as they put every ounce of their energy into their performances despite the heat and those very heavy costumes.
Directors Craig and Renée Maloney have invested a great deal of time and research to get the nuns back together, ensuring that the same feeling of fun and frivolity is engendered yet again. The choreography by Renée was simple but effective. Given the small space that is the Doncaster Playhouse, everything needs to be minimised to make use of the setting.
Musical Director Brad Reader and his band were heard but not seen, playing off stage. The nuns often gave ‘Brother Brad’ a cue that they were ready to indicate that the band should begin. The band seemed a little loose Friday night, but being opening night, there were sound issues to iron out.
The very versatile Brenton Van Vliet handled lighting design, sound design, set design, scenic Art, program design and photography. The set required a Mikado feel and Brenton handled the requirements well. The bird cage used towards the end of the show was fantastic; a very funny gag that Katrina, as Sister Mary Paul handled well. Brenton’s Japanese inspired yellow bridge complete with planter box was also very clever. Lighting was appropriate and there were plenty of cues to keep Lighting Operator Yaz Sesta busy.
Props are an important part of this show and many people had input into the making of the props, a special mention to Victoria Zainal for the Mr Pope-tato Head and the lovely pasta Madonna. Craig Maloney and Stephanie Harvey’s costumes were also well done - every girl looks good in black.
Nunsense 2 was a very entertaining show and deserves an audience. The theatre was just over half full on Friday night and the crowd enjoyed every minute. The Doncaster Playhouse is not a large theatre but well suited to this show. The nuns from Hoboken are sure that there are talent scouts in the audience so go and see the show and pretend you’re a talent scout.
Nunsense 2 runs until the 20th November so don’t miss out on all the nun fun with some really funny gals. Ticket bookings 90125897
Jennie has herself just spent time in the habit as Reverend Mother in Catchment’s Nunsense. In a very busy theatrical year, she also played Aunt March earlier in Nova’s Little Women and she directed and produced her school’s production of Honk Jr! in term 3. Jennie is a well known performer who also enjoys teaching and coaching students and writing reviews.