TR Robertson –Plays and musicals are once again on stage at the Welk Resort Theatre after a long shut down due to the COVID pandemic and restrictions. The musical comedy selected for the 2022 opening is the award winning, funny, and unusual “Nunsense”, written by Dan Goggin. The musical comedy originated as a line of greeting cards. Goggin, who authored the book, music, and lyrics for the comedy, turned the line of greeting cards into a cabaret show which would run for 38 weeks, at Manhattan’s Duplex, before becoming a full-length musical. The musical would open Off-Broadway in 1985 at Cherry Lane Theatre and run for 3,672 performances, moving to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre for the majority of the ten-year run. The musical is the second-longest-running Off-Broadway show in history.
Welk Resort Theatre could not have picked a more perfect musical comedy to open the theatrical portion of their performances. The show is witty, cleverly designed, has great audience participation and when performed by a group of award-winning actors with tremendous voices is a sure hit with audiences of all ages. If you need a “pick-me-up” live on stage performance to get you in the right mood for returning to live theatre, you have got to make the short trip up Highway 15 to the Welk Resort to see this musical comedy.
The musical begins as we find out that five of the nineteen surviving members of the Little Sisters of Hoboken have discovered their cook, Sister Julia, accidently killed fifty-two members of the convent with a tainted vichyssoise, while they were playing bingo. Mother Superior, Sister Mary Regina, has had a vision to start a greeting card company to raise funds for the burials of the deceased Sisters. Unfortunately, she purchased an Apple T.V. with a portion of the funds, thinking she had enough to bury the 52 Sisters, only to find out there was not enough money to bury the final four. The four sisters have been placed in their walk-in cooler and Mother Superior and the Sisters have decided to stage a variety show, in the Mt. Saint Helen’s School Auditorium, to raise money for the final burials. Those in attendance are the audience to see the four Sisters and Mother Superior stage the show with solo and group songs, a variety of dance routines, audience quizzes and stories from the Sisters.
The talented, funny cast includes Anise Ritchie as Sister Mary Hubert, the Orders second-in-command, Mistress of the Novices. Ritchie last performed at the Welk in the extremely popular “Menopause the Musical.” She has great stage presence and a powerful voice in songs like “The Biggest Ain’t the Best,” “Just a Coupl’a Sisters” and the hand clapping, foot stomping “Holier Than Thou.” Bets Malone plays the “street-wise” nun from Brooklyn, Sister Robert Anne.” Bets is well known throughout San Diego County having performed in numerous musicals throughout the county, also in “Menopause the Musical,” last at the Welk. Malone has several standout solos, “Playing Second Fiddle” and a powerful performance of “I Want to Be a Star.” She also performs a humorous “Habit Humor” routine with her habit forming a number of personalities, like Princess Leia.
Award winning performer Eileen Bowman plays an audience favorite Sister Mary Amnesia. As the name suggests, this Sister has had an unfortunate accident, a crucifix fell and hit her in the head causing a memory loss on a number of things in her life, such as her last name. Bowman is involved in very funny banter with the other Sisters, especially Mother Superior. She leads the audience in a funny audience participation quiz. She is also quick to ask the audience jokes they must respond to, such as “How do you make Holy Water? You boil the Hell out of it.” She also has standout solo performances with “So You Want to be a Nun” and wows the audience in “I Could’ve Gone to Nashville.” The final sister is Sister Mary Leo, played by Emma Nossal, a novice nun who wants to be the world’s first ballerina nun. Nossal has performed in various theatres in San Diego County and is currently the Development Associate for Moonlight Cultural Foundation. She also has a chance to have several solo performances with “Benedicite” and a funny performance with “The Dying Nun Ballet.”
Perhaps the most memorable performance from all the actors on the Welk Theatre Stage for this evening came from Luke Harvey Jacobs, the Choreographer for “Nunsense.” Jacobs stepped in on Friday, having found out that award winning actor Melinda Gilb would not be able to open the Saturday performance due to an accident. Jacobs stepped in playing Mother Superior, Sister Mary Regina, along with his trusty clipboard and pulled off a masterful performance of Mother Superior with gusto, great humor, and tremendous interaction with the rest of the cast. He did not miss a beat with dialogue, occasionally glancing at the clipboard, and gave an outstanding performance on all the songs involving the good Mother. Jacobs hit every note in “Turn Up the Spotlight” and was hilarious as Mother Superior and two of the Sisters presented the Blessed Virgin Mary Cookbook. His one-liners with Sister Mary Amnesia came one after another. Jacobs was a perfect “stand-in” for Mother Superior and Melinda Gilb will possibly return to the stage in the coming weeks according to Theatre Manager Patty Escobedo.
“Nunsense” is directed by Noelle Marion, Choreographed by Jacobs and Executive Producer Sean Coogan. The set was designed by Rory Brown, Costumes by Janet Pitcher, Props by Loryn Cook, Artistic Director Larry Raben, Lighting Director Jennifer Edwards, and Music Director Patrick Marion.
“Nunsense” will be on The Welk Resort Theatre Stage until March 27th. Performances are on Saturdays at 1 PM and 7 PM and Sunday at 1PM. For ticket information call 888-802-7469 or 760-749-3448. Visit the web site at www.sandiegotickets.welkresorts.com. For an enjoyable time and a fun night out, make this outstanding musical comedy a must see on your viewing list. Masks are required inside the Welk Theatre.