The Oakland Press -

-Terry T. Brown

Birmingham Theatre's 'Nunsense II' resurrects spririt of first smash hit

Midway through the first act of "Nunsense II, The Second Coming ..." the audience stands up and yells, "Bingo!"

It's ironic, because at the end of the show that same positive sentiment prevails as we discover the Birmingham Theatre has another smash hit on its hands.

The original "Nunsense" was certainly one of the most successful shows the Birmingham has had in its 14-year incarnation as a legitimate theater.

Writer Dan Goggin, taking a cue from Hollywood success stories, decided a reprise was in order. Probably it's just as well he chose not to call it "Son of Nunsense"

The five "Little Sisters of Hoboken" take the stage of the Mount St. Helen's School auditorium to show off their singing and dancing talents.

In the midst of the show, various catastrophes take place which disrupt the proceedings and, along the way, bring about lots of laughs.

The major problem here is that the Franciscan order wants to claim Sister Mary Amnesia and the substantial sum of money into which she has recently come.

This all happens, apparently, hot on the heels of a minor culinary error by Sister Julia child of Godwhich resulted in the untimely demise of numerous people.

One quickly understands that good fortune doesn't always shine upon this particular order.

In the end, of course, everything turns out fine, although it's worth noting there are enough loose threads here that "Nunsense III" could easily come along in about 1996.

This show is funny and entertaining, even for those who don't get some of the more specific Catholic school humor.

Good humor is built on basic human conflicts, and they abound here at Mount St. Helen's.

For instance, Sister Mary Regina, the mother superior, makes it clear that she's numero uno at Mount St. Helen's.

Sister Mary Hubert makes early reference to being "just a heartbeat away" from being the leader herself. These two alternate between being picking away at each other and being allies.

The scene in which they accidentally over-imbibe at the end of the first act is a classic. For that matter, the rivalry between the Little Sisters and the Franciscans for Sister Mary Amnesia lays a humorous foundation which results in numerous prat-falls.

In fact, just about anything these hapless souls do figures to get a big laugh.

The five actresses in the cast all fit their characters very well.

Christine Anderson -- as the wisecracking, street-smart Sister Robert Anne -- is clearly the audience favorite.

Kathy Robinson, as Sister Mary Regina, does an excellent job of leading the convent and the action, while my personal favorite, Donna Ryan's Sister Mary Hubert, brings out the best of the straight-person role. Lyn Vaux and Nancy Carroll, as Sister Mary Leo and Sister Mary Amnesia, respectively, are not, to be slighted in this outstanding cast.

"Nunsense II" is fine family entertainment with lots of laughs. There is not subtle humor here... just the "rolling in the aisle" belly-laugh kind. Even the occasional double entendre would be found unobjectionable for even the youngest theatergoer.

And that, overall, makes "Nunsense II" an excellent evening of theater.