From the C-T, of course
Theater review: 'Nuncrackers' is heavenly fun
TIM REID • PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 21, 2008 12:15 AM
ASHEVILLE – The Little Sisters of Hoboken are back in Asheville Community Theatre's good-hearted and hilarious Christmas musical comedy, “Nuncrackers.”
Dan Goggin's sequel in the fabulously successful “Nunsense” franchise about a small convent of nuns' zany fund-raising antics is directed by Jerry Crouch, who also honchoed ACT's blockbusters “The Music Man,” “Annie” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
This time the good nuns have gone high-tech, televising their annual Christmas concert from their new cable access studio built in the convent basement.
Reverend Mother Mary Regina (Ruth Butler) has her hands full trying to maintain the proper convent decorum while marshalling her disparate crew to put on an entertaining show.
Streetwise Sister Mary Robert Anne (Lisa J.S. Ross) is a perennial show biz wannabe, yearning for the bright lights of Carnegie Hall. Spaced-out Sister Mary Paul (Mandy Phillips) is a former country music singer, and Sister Mary Leo (Heather Taft) aspires to be the first ballerina nun.
It doesn't help that Revered Mother herself grew up in a circus family and can't resist a turn in the spotlight. The audience has assembled and the show must go on, but everything that can go wrong does.
Father Virgil (Bradshaw Call) tries to do a cooking segment but drinks too much of the recipe's rum. Sister Mary Leo gets injured just before her big dancing scene in “The Nutcracker.” Sister Mary Paul, also called Sister Amnesia, keeps teaching the children the wrong lyrics for songs such as “Here We Come-a-Waffle-ing.”
Even the convent's Christmas presents go missing. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the Little Sisters of Hoboken rise to the occasion with escalating mirth and mayhem. They are aided by five talented young cast members - Lexie Moore, Summer Nordmeyer, John Norlin, Milo Norlin and Emma Stoneberg.
It is hard to single out exceptional individual performances in a production that is full of them, but Bradshaw Call nearly steals the show in the very touching “The Christmas Box.” And Lexie Moore brings an unbelievable poise and fine singing voice that are really exceptional for a child actor.
Mandy Phillips has wonderful comic timing as the ditzy but good-hearted Sister Amnesia, and Ruth Butler is hilarious as the stodgy Reverend Mother trying to restore order amid chaos. It is worth going just to see her and Father Virgil in tutus as “dueling” Sugar Plum Fairies or she and Sister Mary Hubert (Eileen Kennedy) singing the joys of a nun's life “In the Convent.”
Musicians Chuck Taft, Jessica Miskelly, Nora Vetro and David Bruce deliver a full sound that keeps the merriment contagious.
Fans of earlier “Nunsense” productions will find this one a worthy successor, and first-time viewers will become quick converts to the charm of the Little Sisters of Hoboken.
Crouch, who is known for packing the house in some of the most successful shows in ACT's history, has apparently done it again with “Nuncrackers,” which is sure to be a big hit this holiday season. Better get your tickets early.
Tim Reid reviews theater for the Citizen-Times. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
04 December 2008
From the C-T, of course