Singing and Dancing Nuns… whats not to like? Right? Well it is a mixed bag with the Sam Bass Theatre Production of Nunsense, on stage now at the Old Depot Stage. I want to start off by saying that I have a huge love and affinity for Sam Bass Theatre and the people who make it up. It is where I started doing theatre in the Austin area after moving across the state 10 years ago. I think it is a great venue with great people in it. However not every production is the best.
Nunsense is a fantastic show about 5 nuns who are putting on a variety show fundraiser to help bary the 4 remaining nuns who were part of 52 nuns who died of botchulism a few weeks prior to the show. The premise is soo good you really can’t screw it up. And for the most part Sam Bass Theater and Director Eric Nelson didn’t. I personally enjoyed 95% of the show and left laughing enjoying some of the moments that took me by surprise.
The cast is small only 5 people, although the tech crew and back stage folks are mentioned as characters and deserve a round of applause. But the real stars are the 5 ladies in black and white who give us one damn good show. This cast is a bit of a mixed bag, there are some major stand outs and then there are some that do not make par. Cathie Sheridan as Sister Mary Hubert is fantastic, she should be she is a multiple award winning actress and it shows on stage. Sheridan commands the stage, and the audience takes notice. Her portrayal of the mistress of the novices is sweet and motherly but still stern and perfect for the occasion. When she sings “Holier than Thou” to close the show you just want to jump up and sing right along with her.Arden Trevino brings to life Sister Robert Ann, the Convent bus driver and self proclaimed comedienne. As Robert Ann, Trevino is hilarious and performs like a champ even after being shot down as a “Lead” in the Mother Superior’s show she trudges on and gives us a performance you will not soon forget. Her “Habit Humor” is a definite bright spot in the program. Then there is Sister Amnesia, or at least she thinks that is her name, played brilliantly by Jennifer Zartman Bateman. Sister Amnesia is my favorite part of this show, she is so sweet and kind she really did make me want to become catholic! Bateman’s ability to play the wide eyed innocent nun was perfection and her timing was spot on. She literally had me rolling with laughter! Rounding out the cast are Sydney Stan as Sister Leo and Kat Tait as Mother Superior. Stan as Leo is sweet and kind, and a beautiful dancer however that is where the magic stops for me, beyond that she was sadly forgettable. In her defense the role is small and she is playing with some major league actresses in the aforementioned trio. Then there is Kat Tait as Mother Superior or should I say not so superior. Tait was obviously not prepared well for the role, she butchered lines and choreography and had little to no character. To put it simply she bored me, and I have seen this show many times before and always it is the Mother Superior I leave raving about not her second in command.
On a brighter note the scenic design by director Eric Nelson was incredible. I did not even recognize the Old Depot Stage, it looked sooo HUGE! I was thoroughly impressed! The blocking though left a little to be desired, there was a big raised platform in the center of the stage that was rarely used. The costumes while simple (purposely) they were great, the habits were well made and laid nicely on the body. All in all this was a well put together production at least from an audience perspective.
This show despite it’s struggles did entertain me, make me laugh, and I was sad that it was over. The majority of the cast is talented and it shows. All said and done I give this show 3.5 out of 5 stars for the 3 actresses that rocked the show, and then some.
Nunsense runs through October 17, 2015 at Sam Bass Theatre. For more information or to get tickets log onto http://www.sambasstheatre.org/