The Catholic Spirit - 10/03/02

-Bob Zyakowski

A bit of Yiddish makes ‘Nunsense’ crazy as ever

Those fun-lovin’, singin’, and dancin’ nuns from “Nunsense” are back and, unless you’re a total putz, get ready to laugh because they’re learning Yiddish. “Meshuggah-Nuns!” is the latest in the series of musical comedies featuring the talented, if fictional, Little Sisters of Hoboken, and the jokes, the puns, the songs, and the vaudeville-like skits make for a zany but whole stage show. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is hosting this world premiere from the pen of Dan Goggin through Dec.31. This time Goggin mixes Jewish humor and traditions with the Catholic world of the Little Sisters, and the result is an evening of laughs, knowing smiles and more laughs. Meshuggah—Yiddish for crazy—has all the campy one-liners, sight gags and plays on words that a light-hearted show should. But audiences will appreciate the variety of well-crafted songs, creative choreography, sing-along opportunity and upbeat music included on this evening of good-natured entertainment. For example, the crew of four nuns and Tevye-like Martin Ruben do a send up of the Village People with a great spoof—“Matzo-Matzo Man.” Goggin has Ruben steal from “Fiddler on the Roof” in performing the funny “If I were a Catholic.”

Mary Grant is the perfect Reverend Mother, and there isn’t a weak voice in the convent that includes Deborah Del Mastro as Sister Robert Anne, Andreea Lyn Parsons as the ditsy Sister Amnesia and Bridgette Cooper as Sister Mary Hubert. Parsons contributes a nicely done Country & Western, “I May have Missed the Boat but My Ship Keeps Comin’ In”; Cooper belts out a great gospel/soul style “Rock the Boat,” and Del Mastro shows her incredible range when she finally sneaks in a solo. The best number in the show, though, may be a ballad that’s sung in duet by Ruben and Del Mastro. Ruben’s Character, “Howard,” is sharing how he fell in love with his wife while Sister Robert Anne tries to explain her call to religious life. You can’t help but be touched too – from both vocational choices – when you hear the lyric, “I’ve never known a love this before…. It’s love, but so much more.” With more than 5,000 performances of the “Nunsense” musicals, the antics of the Little Sister of Hoboken are, well, habit forming. As the nuns themselves now might say, don’t be a schlemiel: schlep your family and parish groups over to the Chan to catch a performance of “Meshuggah-Nuns!” Call (952) 934-1525.