The Hippo


Apr 22, 2019








The cast of Nunsense: The Mega-Musical. Photo by Michael von Redlich.

See Nunsense: The Mega-Musical 

Where: Manchester Community Music School, Holy Cross Hall
When: Friday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 17, at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $12-$20
Contact:, 669-7469

Majestic Theatre produces last of Dan Goggin’s material

By Kelly Sennott

 You know you’ve got a hit when, even without your habit and crucifix necklace, strangers at Canobie Lake Park recognize you as Sister Mary Amnesia from Nunsense at the Majestic Theatre.

“This happened to me the other day,” said Becky Rush, who plays Sister Mary Amnesia in this weekend’s production, Nunsense: The Mega-Musical.
“They came up to me and said, ‘Oh my God, you’re famous!’ while I was in line at the Yankee Cannonball.”
Betty Fortin, who’s acted in four of the past seven Majestic Nunsense productions, was working as a billing manager at a doctor’s office when she was most recently recognized. In fact, people come up to them all the time, while they’re shopping or even performing in other local shows. (Rush recently played a drunk in another local theater production, and afterward, an audience member came up and said to her, “Looks like you’ve gotten a new habit!”)
“The audiences love Nunsense,” Rush said, while sporting, in fact, a brand-new habit. It was a Thursday night rehearsal just a week before the Majestic Theatre’s Aug. 8 premiere. “They’re on pins and needles waiting for it every year. … I think a lot of our patrons are very Catholic. They grew up in Catholic school and they recognize all the jokes. When the Reverend Mother comes out with the clicker, they die laughing.” 
However, there may be tears at this year’s Nunsense production, as this week, the Majestic Theatre produces the last of the Nunsense material. Initially, it was thought that last year’s Nunset Boulevard would be the Majestic’s grand finale. Writer Dan Goggin himself came to a showing and participated in a Q&A afterward.
But Goggin had something else up  his sleeve; he’d recently put together a Mega-Musical of the first Nunsense with the same plot and same storyline, but with a new song (“One Last Hope”) and a few more characters, including a priest, a chorus of children and the never-before-seen, infamous convent cook Sister Julia, Child of God.
“It’s exactly like the first original show, but it’s been expanded to allow for more people and additional parts,” Goggin said in a phone interview, calling from Manhattan. “This one has eight main characters and eight kids, so there are going to be 16 or so people onstage.” 
This hyped-up version was performed in a St. Louis theater festival but is otherwise brand-new to all other audience members, Goggin said.
The Nunsense concept originated as a line of greeting cards in the ’80s, only to expand into a cabaret number and, eventually, into a full musical. The first run happened in 1985, and it would eventually go for 3,672 performances, the second-longest-running Off-Broadway show ever.
Based on some real nuns Goggin knew in Catholic school, Nunsense tells about five of the 19 surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken, a one-time missionary order that ran a leper colony on the island south of France. 
To set the scene: cook Sister Julia, Child of God, has accidentally killed 52 convent residents with her tainted vichyssoise. The survivors survived because while everyone else ate, they played Bingo with a group of Maryknolls.
Unfortunately, the sisters only have enough money to bury 48 of the 52 dead sisters; they put four in the freezer for safekeeping and devise a plan to raise money to bury the rest. 
Mother Superior comes up with the idea to create a greeting card company, an idea that goes well until she spends the money on a new plasma TV, so to raise the rest, the nuns put on a variety show.
Participating in the project are Mother Superior Mary Regina, a former circus performer (“Our whole family’s in the circus,” Fortin said of Mother Superior Mary Regina. “The only reason I became a nun is that I promised God that, if He saved them, I’d become a nun. And he did.”); her second-in-command and rival Sister Mary Hubert; Sister Robert Anne, streetwise nun from Brooklyn; Sister Mary Leo, who’s determined to be the first ballerina nun; and Sister Mary Amnesia, who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head, and who uses her puppet, Sister Marionette, to help her along. (Sister Marionette is a muppet-like nun with a raspy New York accent and a foul mouth.)
This year’s production will feature new habits — a bit warmer for wear, but more realistic and less worn than those in past shows, courtesy of Goggin, who played an advising role in this year’s production. 
Goggin won’t make it to Manchester this year — he’s quite busy, with potential Nunsense TV pilots and the demand for more mega-musicals — but he and Majestic Theatre Executive Director (and founder) Robert Dionne have become good friends through Nunsense. They met a couple of years ago, when Dionne said he’d drive to New York to pick up Nunsense costumes, but only if Goggin had coffee with him.
“I’ve never met anybody so dedicated as the people in Manchester,” Goggin said. “Rob is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. He puts in time 24/7 to make this stuff happen. … Everything is tight these days, and I’m so appreciative of his hard work, because there are a lot of theaters that, when it starts to get hard, they just give up. … It’s one of the reasons I enjoy working with him and helping him. His dedication and enthusiasm are kind of infectious.” 
As seen in the August 7, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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