To describe Dan Goggin’s musical comedy “Nunsense” as habit-forming is no understatement. Since the original debuted in 1985, the show has spawned six sequels, including “Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical” now drawing laughs at Steel Beam Theatre.
No matter what their religious affiliation, audiences can’t help themselves from responding to the antics of the fun-loving sisters of Mount Saint Helen – bad puns, nutty sight gags and familiar shticks notwithstanding.
In this rendition, directed and choreographed by Kevin Wiczer with music direction by Donna Steele, five nuns – along with half a dozen of their most talented schoolchildren – gather in the convent basement to tape a special holiday revue for public-access TV.
Wiczer has assembled a smart, finely-tuned cast that works well as an ensemble.
The family-friendly show, based on a book, music and lyrics by Goggin, features traditional carols as well as spoofs (“Here We Come-a-Waffling” and “Twelve Days Prior to Christmas”); audience participation (anyone for bingo?); and a hilarious send-up of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, “The Nutcracker.”
April M. Martinez, who appeared in the company’s previous production of “Nunsense II: The Second Coming,” plays the irreverent Reverend Mother Mary Regina who fights a losing battle to keep the broadcast from getting sidetracked. She does a bang-up job with the lively “A Carnival Christmas” in Act I.
Other performers include Nancy Kolton as Sister Robert Anne; Pascale M. Trouillot as Sister Mary Hubert; Sarah Smith as the hapless Sister Mary Paul (a.k.a. Amnesia) and JZ Zaeske, as Sister Mary Leo, a wannbe prima ballerina.
Terry Christianson, as Father Virgil, demonstrated his singing ability with a nuanced ballad (“The Christmas Box”) and comedic prowess as he gets pressed into service impersonating the missing cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, in a daffy culinary demonstration.
But the frosting on this tasty holiday confection was provided by the enthusiastic youngsters whose intermittent appearances to sing and dance further enlivened the show. Two sets of participants appear in rotation. On hand for opening night were Molly Babczak, Madison Brown, Lizzie Plambeck, Sami Sima, Sydney Poss and Devin Wise.
Credit Steele and Nancy Kolton for the production’s impressive costumes and props and Roberta Maxfield for her effective work on scenic design.
If you go
What: “Nuncrackers: A Nunsense Christmas Musical” at Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main St., St. CharlesWhen: Through Sunday, Dec. 22.Tickets: $28 for adults; $25 for seniors 62 and older; $23 for students (16 and younger); and $22 for groups (10 or more)Show Information: 630-587-8521 or www.steelbeamtheatre.com