Monday, 16 January 2012 16:17

JPAS's Nunset Boulevard Will Bowl You Over

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shapiroBy Dean M. Shapiro

They just can’t seem to restrain themselves, those talented, irrepressible Little Sisters of Westwego. In the “bad habit” of getting starstruck at every opportunity, the cast of the latest episode in the ongoing “Nunsense” series finds itself in the most logical place for their stellar ambitions and that, of course, would be Hollywood.

Following up on last year’s adventure at sea with the director of “Fiddler on the Roof” in “Meshuggah-Nuns,” the Jefferson Performing Arts Society brings the Little Sisters back for another go-round in “Nunset Boulevard: The Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show.”  The show opened earlier this month in Westwego and runs for one more weekend there before moving on to North Shore and Metairie. The schedule is as follows:

 Friday-Sunday, January 20-22: Teatro Wego! Theatre, 177 Sala Avenue, Westwego. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday matinee

  • Saturday-Sunday, January 28-29: Benet Hall, St. Joseph Abbey, 75376 River Road, Covington. 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday matinee
  • Friday-Sunday, February 3-5: Monsignor Barrett Complex, St. Catherine of Siena School, 400 Codifer Boulevard, Metairie. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday matinee

In this latest installment of Dan Goggin’s popular, long-running “Nunsense” series, Sisters Robert Anne, Mary Hubert, Mary Leo, Mary Amnesia and their Reverend Mother, find themselves in Hollywood for what they think is their shot at stardom – a chance to sing at world-renowned Hollywood Bowl.  However, when they get there, they soon realize that the cabaret lounge of the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama was what their sponsor neglected to mention, complete with the ambient noise of loudspeaker announcements and 15-pound balls crashing into heavy wooden pins.

But, with typical good cheer, the Sisters hunker down in their cramped, cacophonous performance venue and attempt to make the most of the situation, giving the audience a fair sampling of their semi-sacred and secular repertoire. The show opens with Sister Robert Anne (Allee Peck) introducing the scenario “Cabaret” style, with a “Welcome” in three languages, then is joined by the rest of the cast in “Hello Hollywood.” And, as in previous installments, the bawdy Sister Mary Annette (a marionette, for the benefit of those who didn’t pick up on the pun right away) has somehow managed to sneak into the Sisters’ luggage again, much to the Reverend Mother’s chagrin.

Well, of course, as luck would have it and in typical Hollywood fashion, a film just happens to be shooting across the street from where the Sisters are performing. And not just any film. This one just happens to be right up the Sisters’ “alley”. It’s a biopic about Mother Dolores Hart, the Hollywood film star of the late 1950s who gave Elvis his first on-screen kiss, then gave it all up to become a Benedictine nun in Bethlehem (Connecticut).

Sister Mary Leo (Katie Coplen Bourg), being the closest of the group in physical resemblance to Mother Dolores, goes in for the screen test and, after a suspenseful wait, she is offered the part. However, screen ambitions prove secondary to sacred vows and Sister Leo stays in the fold after all. The Sisters pack it up and move on, eagerly awaiting their next series of misadventures.

As with the previous installments in the “Nunsense” series, this one is filled with clever one-liners and lots of laughs, not to mention quick and colorful costume changes that find the Sisters in a wide variety of once-popular Hollywood screen styles. Sister Hubert (Danielle Edinburgh Wilson) brings her gospel background and style to the stage in a show-stopping number, “Lord, Don’t Let My Baby End Up on the Silver Screen.” And, as in previous installments, the ditzy Sister Amnesia (Shayla Lange) manages to forget everything but, thankfully, not the lyrics of her solos and ensemble numbers.

Even the normally stiff and formal Reverend Mother (Claire Conti) gets caught up in the excitement and succumbs to her own hidden showbiz ambitions. Without removing the cowl and wimple she still manages to let her hair down (in the figurative sense, of course) and cut loose with a few rousing numbers in true cabaret style.

The performance was masterfully directed by “Uncle Wayne” Daigrepont and masterfully choreographed by Lindsey Price. Multitalented actor, vocalist and pianist Alan Payne did a fine job as the musical director for this show and Edward R. Cox came through nicely on the set design and props. But extra special plaudits go to costume designer Adam Alonso for the colorful and imaginative outfits the Sisters changed into in rapid succession. These outfits really helped make the show the glittering spectacle it was.

Tickets are still on sale for all shows and good seats are available. Senior, military, student and child ticket discounts are offered. For tickets and information call JPAS at 885-2000 or log on to their website


Next up for JPAS is “Hairspray,” opening January 28 at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie. More details to come in the next column.

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