By Karen Meister
"Nunsense," the musical comedy about five nuns who belong to the order of The Little Sisters of Hoboken, has audiences hysterical at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.
These five sisters — Sister Mary Regina, the Mother Superior; Sister Mary Hubert, second in command; Sister Mary Amnesia; Sister Mary Robert and Sister Mary Leo, a novice — are the most wacky, fun-loving nuns I have ever come across, but they certainly can sing, dance and have a great time telling stories and jokes, one right after the other.
The story begins with poor Sister Julia, Child of God, who wipes out most of the order by accidentally serving them her tainted vichyssoise soup. Fifty-two of the resident sisters die after eating the soup, leaving the few survivors in charge of the funerals. The sisters have a fabulous idea for raising money to pay for the funeral expenses. They create greeting cards and they sell like hotcakes. There is now enough money to bury all the sisters, until Mother Superior has a whim about purchasing a VCR and camcorder, which dwindled down the total money earned and, as a result, four sisters could not be buried due to the shortage of funds.
They would have to be kept in the freezer until more money was raised.
The nuns come up with another fundraiser idea to organize a variety show, and the action takes place at Mount St. Helen's School gymnatorium.
In order to really appreciate these five main characters, it is important to know a little background about each one.
Sister Mary Regina, portrayed by Lynne Truex, is the Mother Superior of the group who comes from a small town in Ireland. She led a nun "troupe" in establishing a leper colony in the Mediterranean and later returned home — right to Hoboken.
Sister Mary Hubert is second in command and in charge of recruiting and training novices. She thinks of herself as gentle but firm and is always ready to take over for Sister Mary Regina. Sister Hubert is played so well by Maureen Illmensee Rada.
Sister Mary Robert Anne was a disadvantaged child from Brooklyn, who joined the order after dropping out of cashier school. Karen Ficarra portrays this part to a tee, down to the language and New York accent.
Sister Mary Amnesia is a very confused, but loveable, soul who was hit in the head by a crucifix and remembers very little. Gina Lupi plays a perfect Sister Amnesia and adds so much to the group.
Sister Mary Leo is a novice at the convent. She has a passion for the church, but has a dancing passion, as well. Katie Lee showed the audience her dancing and acting abilities in this character's role.
All the sisters have wonderful stage presence and the talent to keep the audience involved with the performance.
There is even an audience quiz, where Sister Amnesia gives out prizes for correct responses to several questions involving the play.
This production is directed by Joe Ficarra and produced by Jan Topoleski. Victoria Lee is the brilliant choreographer with Anthony Didia as musical director. Percussion is made possible by Jason O'Brian and lighting by Brandy Panfili.
Together, cast and crew do a fantastic job of entertaining the audience to the "nth" degree.
So, if you want, or need, a light, hilarious evening of fun, go and see "Nunsense" at the Algonquin Theatre.
The show will be at the theatre from July 15-17 and begins at 8 p.M.
Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the box office 732-528-9211 or online at www.algonquinarts.org.
The theatre is located at 173 Main St., Manasquan.