Nunsensations! ~ The Nunsense Vegas Revue

By Dan Goggin
Performed by Valerie Boyle, Danica Brown, Cyndi Carleton, Donna Garner, Gail Hakala.
Directed by Robert More
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
May 22 to June 9, 2007
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

The Nuns do Vegas

For fans of the Nunsense series, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia is offering the next episode – Nunsensations! The Nunsense Vegas Revue. The five sisters from Hoboken are always looking for ways to raise money for their parish. So when they’re offered $10,000 to perform a Las Vegas Revue in “The Pump Room” at the Mystique Motor Lodge, off they go, despite Mother Superior’s (Valerie Boyle) protests. The other four assure her that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, which apparently alleviates her worries.

Sister Mary Hubert (Gail Hakala), Sister Robert Anne (Donna Garner) Sister Mary Paul (Cyndi Carleton) and Sister Mary Leo (Danica Brown) immediately get into the swing of things in Las Vegas, and the show begins. Like Vegas show girls, the nuns wear lots of sequins and feathers, all over top of their habits.

The evening starts out with the nuns working the audience, getting names for a draw to play the Holy Rollers Giant Slot Machine. But instead of coming up lemons or cherries, this one-armed bandit is supposed to produce virtues. Players are trying to match faith, hope, charity and those other two virtues, will and grace. Unfortunately, on opening night, no one rolled three of a kind, so the prize – keys to the new car – was never awarded.

In between the big musical numbers, the nuns present Shtick, which is clearly labelled as such. It’s mostly old jokes you’ve heard before, but when presented by nuns, they’ll make you laugh again.

There are memorable numbers throughout the show: instead of Celine Dion singing about the Titanic, we have Mother Superior wearing a giant silver blimp on top of her head, singing about the Hindenburg.

Valerie Boyle is excellent in the role of Mother Superior. Last summer at Victoria Playhouse, she starred in Sophie Tucker: The Last of the Red Hot Mamas, and brings the same comedic ability to this role. Boyle and Gail Hakala, who plays the more seasoned nun, provide most of the laughs.

The two go through a sales routine, reminiscent of Johnny Carson’s Art Fern sketch, where they are selling useless Vegas souvenirs. Sister Mary Hubert (Hakala) is attracted to the inflatable Wayne Newton doll, and Boyle, along with the audience, breaks up over the hilarious faces she makes.

Cyndi Carleton is delightful as the exuberant Sister Mary Paul, also known as Sister Amnesia in earlier Nunsense shows. She’s a guitar-playing nun, and offers to sing tunes like “If my nose were running money, Honey, I’d blow it all on you.” She is also a clever puppeteer, bringing along her muppet-like side-kick, Sister Mary Annette.

While there are plenty of laughs, Nunsensations seems to be more about the music, so it doesn’t have as many witty lines as the earlier Nunsense series. Nevertheless, the Vegas glitz makes it fun and as the nuns themselves say: Why sing a ballad when you can belt a show tune?

Nunsensations continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until June 9. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or (519) 882-1221 for tickets.

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