‘Nunsense’ tonight in Volcano


By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Kilauea Drama and Entertainment Network’s production of the musical comedy “Nunsense” opens tonight at the Kilauea Theater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The play by Dan Goggin, which spoofs the trials and tribulations of five nuns of the Little Sisters of Hoboken order, got off-Broadway audiences into the habit of laughter for nearly nine years.

“For 15 years I’ve wanted to do this show,” said director Suzi Bond.

The cast is filled with experienced actors: Kathy Frankovic as Mother Superior Mary Regina, a former circus performer who can’t resist the spotlight; Stephanie Becher as Sister Mary Hubert, her competitive but dignified second-in-command; Erin Gallagher as Sister Robert Anne, a streetwise nun from Brooklyn; Cristina Hussey as Sister Mary Amnesia, a wacky nun who lost her memory when a crucifix hit her head; and Corey Yester as Sister Leo, a novice determined to become the world’s first ballerina nun.

“They’re incredible people and they’ve worked so hard, not just in rehearsal, but outside of rehearsal,” Bond said. “They’ve learned all the numbers and all the dances in a period of three weeks.”

The convent’s cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, inadvertently poisoned the nuns with tainted vichyssoise soup. Fifty-two of the nuns died, and there is only enough money to bury 48, so the nuns put on a variety show to raise funds to bury the final four, who are in the convent’s freezer.

“They’re holding the variety show on the stage of the Mount St. Helens Middle School’s 8th-grade production of ‘Grease,’” Bond said. “So the set has a juke box and a soda fountain counter. The set is totally incongruous with what’s going on with the variety show.” The set was built by community theater vet Steve Peyton.

Pedro Ka‘awaloa Jr. is the music director and plays keyboards in the Mount St. Helens Band. The other band members are: Armando Mendoza, trumpet; Loren Antolik, bass; Sheldon Graham, trumpet; and Reid Tsuji, trombone.

There’s a variety of music and dancing in the show, which has multiple choreographers: Carmen Richardson for tap; Pam James for ballet; and Bond and stage manager Billy Shackley for the remainder of the dances.

Bond described “Nunsense” as “a family-friendly show” that “lovingly mocks” life in the convent.

“Having gone to a Catholic school as a child, it’s not mean at all; it’s just true,” she said. “It’s very funny, but it’s uplifting in the end. The whole show is a running gag from beginning to end and it will make you laugh.”

The show runs weekends through Feb. 24. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 general, $12 seniors/students and $10 for children 12 and under, available at Kilauea General Store, Keaau Natural Foods, Paradise Plants, The Most Irresistible Shop and at the door. Park fees are waived for theatergoers an hour before showtime.

For ticket information, call 982-7344 or email kden73@aol.com.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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