By Merijo Holley
Davis County is in for a treat with the opening of its newest addition to the arts, The On Pitch Performing Arts (OPPA) Theatre located at the Pitched Perfectly Studios. The new theatre is a 60-seat venue located just off West Hill Field Road. The theatre shares real estate with the Pitched Perfectly Voice Studio, where many of the actors are trained for their debut.
OPPA’s first production is the light-hearted religious comedy, Nunsense. Nunsense has been performed by hundreds of casts since 1985, and the musical holds the prestigious title of Off-Broadway’s second longest running musical. The author, Dan Goggin, adapted the play from his Nun-themed line of successful greeting cards. The play has spawned several sequels and been the showcase for some of Broadway’s most famous voices. Nunsense is the story of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, New Jersey who will be sharing their talents and stories in a variety showcase.
OPPA’s Nunsense opens to a 1950’s Diner theme, and the nuns introduce themselves and announce to the audience that they will be borrowing the set from the musical Grease from the convent’s 8th grade musical. The emergency fundraiser and variety show is needed to collect funds to bury some of the convent residents, who died in a mass food poisoning. The fundraiser participants (and stars of the show) are Mother Superior Mary Regina (Carolyn Stevens), a former circus performer who cannot resist the spotlight; her competitive but dignified rival, second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert (Charlene Adams); Sister Robert Anne (Becky Evans), a streetwise nun from Brooklyn; Sister Mary Leo (Seante Nielsen), a novice who is determined to be the world’s first ballerina nun; and wacky, childlike Sister Mary Amnesia (Amanda Larsen), who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head. With a cast of personalities like that, what could possibly go wrong?
The audience becomes engaged from the beginning, when the nuns tell their curious
story in song. The first musical number, “Prayer,” draws the audience in as the five sisters create a magical harmony. It’s not long before they break out in to hilarious little side stories of playing BINGO with the cheatin’ Relief Society Sisters and inviting audience participation in a quiz.
Carolyn Stevens as Mother Regina looks every bit the part, and has perfected the Irish accent. Her voice is strong and her humor was real in her interactions with the audience. She stole the show in a scene in which she becomes intoxicated on contraband essential oils.
Charlene Adams brings Sister Hubert to life. I am told she is the vocal coach for the studio, and her vocal performance was a treat. She takes the stage proudly proclaiming, “I am Holier than thou” and belts out a performance worthy of a much larger professional theater.
Becky Evans adds to the fun factor as Sister Robert Ann. This nun just wants a solo in the show, and she will do anything to prove she is worthy of the spotlight. Robert Ann engages the audience pre-performance and never breaks character. I admit I was so taken by her character that when she explained the Grease set before curtain, I really believed the 8th grade drama class had just finished rehearsal!
Amanda Larsen as Sister Amnesia was comic bravery. She possesses the rare Lucille Ball- like physical comedy that plays well on the smaller stage. The program does not provide a bio, but I would bet she is theatre-trained.
Seante Nielsen’s sweet young Sister Mary Leo, beautifully shows this nun’s dream to show her love of the Lord by becoming the first ever Ballerina in a Habit. I would have loved more volume and projection in her voice, but wow, this girl can dance. Clearly, her dance skills had to be showcased, and director Brandon Stauffer found some staging liberties that worked to show her off, toe shoes and all. Musical director Cariel Goodwin gets these nuns all singing as if they are the heavenly choir.
Nunsense provided a fun-filled evening at the theatre. The OPPA version included local religious humor, a little History of Catholic Saints and their causes, one-liners that will make me a hit with the 5th graders in my life, a reminder that sometimes a trip to your dream job will land you in a Hoboken Convent, and the lesson that nothing is ever as black-and-white as it seems.
On Pitch Performing Arts presents Nunsense
May 8, 2017, 07:30 PM – May 13, 2017, 07:30 PM
Pitched Perfectly Studios – 1558 W 700 N, #8 Layton, UT, United States
Tickets are $15 adults, $12 children and seniors