Wow! Eyemouth Variety Group’s latest production of ‘Nunsense’ was a breath of fresh air!
The audience could not fail but be involved in the capers of the “little sisters of Hoboken” with their struggle to raise funds for the burial of four of 52 of their sisters, accidentally poisoned by Sister Julia, (child of God). They decide the best way to afford the remaining four burials is to stage a variety show in the school auditorium. Here we are introduced to Reverend Mother Regina, a former circus performer, Sister Mary Hubert, mistress of novices, a streetwise nun from Brooklyn by the name of Sister Robert Anne, Sister Mary Leo, a wannabe ballerina and the delightfully wacky Sister Mary Amnesia who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head.
Featuring ballet, tap dancing, star turns, an audience quiz and some comic surprises when Reverend Mother gets “high” on some very tricky substance, this show bowls along at an entertaining pace!
It would be difficult to single out any one of the performers with particular ability in their own part as every last one of them gave 100% to what was a very demanding, fast-paced show,and seldom slipping from the comical Irish brogue, but it must be mentioned that Cathy Booker, who played (irreverend) Mother Regina and is a newcomer to EVG, stepped in only latterly to take on the part when the original choice could not fulfil the role. It was a courageous part to play that was carried off with conviction. An extra credibility was lent to the part by her natural ebullient nature. The fact that she chose to speak a lot of her singing parts only brought the other singing parts into relief and added to a singularly excellent performance with the accent on entertainment.
The other leads, Tilly Blakeley was the perfect Sister Mary Hubert, with her underlying authority and rich singing tones. Young Hannah Ritchie, as Sister Robert Anne was a joy to listen to as her solos proved. She played this role with a confidence and maturity belying her age as did Carly Robertson who also impressed with her ability to take on a mature role, delighting us with her sweet voice and graceful ballet moves.
Andrea Thacker made of her own the part of Mary Amnesia, taking on some difficult singing with the confidence and conviction we expect of her. Her antics with the puppet and the quiz brought yet more laughs from the audience whose participation from the very start and throughout was never in dispute.
The chorus sisters, working away in the background, provided the necessary back-up and interaction to the story, swelling the professional sounding harmonies and surprising volume where necessary and displaying some fancy talents in the tap dancing sequences.
There were a few unexpected surprises over the course of the show; some “impromptu” work by the chorus prior to the start of the show and at the interval, a voice coach whose excellent singing is misplaced off stage and a backstage lady who made two appearances onstage, yet who runs a mile if she is handed a microphone!
It would be fair to say that whilst this was a rather different choice of production, and not my personal choice, there is no doubt as to the success achieved.
For local performance groups to carry on it is necessary to change the format from time to time and EVG production team have certainly done so with this and their previous production of Arsenic and Old Lace. A courageous move! The tight knit group involved in Nunsense, as in everything proved that good teamwork is paramount.
Well done Pauline for the excellent casting! Well done the music makers, who, with only keyboard and drums provided the very necessary accompaniment to the superb singing and everyone else involved who contributed to the show’s success.
The lasting memories of this show, for me, will be the sight of those colourful tap shoes, not necessarily matching, and Mother Regina being dragged offstage on her back!