Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2014’
If you’re an established theatre company reaching out to a new community, why not start out with a proven audience pleaser? So goes it with the Raven Players, based in Healdsburg, who have expanded their sphere of entertainment with the opening of a second venue – The Raven Theater Windsor – and their inaugural production of “Nunsense” running now through April 19.
“Nunsense” is probably the only theatrical production to date that started out as a line of greeting cards. Expanding on the success of those cards (featuring nuns making slightly naughty quips), creator Dan Goggin soon developed a cabaret show and by 1985 had a full-fledged off-Broadway musical to show for his work. Running for ten years, the show is the second-longest running off-Broadway show in history.
“Nunsense” is the tale of the surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken, who find they need to raise money to bury the last four members of their cloister who fell victim to a terrible cooking accident. It seems that the convent cook – Sister Mary Julia (Child of God) – prepared a bad batch of vichyssoise and knocked off most of her fellow nuns. The survivors, who were off playing bingo, have come together to produce a benefit with the hope of moving the deceased out of the kitchen freezer and into sacred ground. And so the evening goes, as the Sisters sing, dance, crack jokes, and run a Bingo game at intermission to raise the money and (hopefully) the audience’s spirits.
It’s pretty much a one-joke show – nuns doing slightly bawdy material – but director Joe Gellura gets a lot of mileage out of that one joke. It helps to have a talented cast and this production is fortunate to have Shirley Nilsen Hall (Reverend Mother), Bonnie Jean Shelton (Sister Mary Hubert), Janine La Forge (Sister Mary Robert Anne), Cindy Brillhart-True (Sister Mary Amnesia), and Lydia Revelos (Sister Mary Leo) as the vestal performers. Hall has the look (and index finger) of a Mother Superior down pat. Brillhart-True’s cherubic face and mile-wide beatific smile were perfect for her character. All the ladies are in fine voice, bringing their distinctive personalities to such numbers as “Playing Second Fiddle”, “Tackle that Temptation with a Time Step”, “Dying Nun Ballet”, “I Could’ve Gone to Nashville” and about a dozen others, accompanied by Sister Mary Melody (Ginger Beavers) on piano and Father Tom Beatatude (Kent Wilson) on drums. By the end of the evening, circumstances find the Sisters with the means to send the chilled members of their Order on their way to the Pearly Gates and you on your way home.
The venue itself was a perfect setting for this production, as the building saw duty most recently as a church. The Raven has taken what was a cinder block box church and converted it into a cinder block box theater. With a capacity of about one hundred seats, rows of 14/15 comfortably padded chairs face a slightly raised stage. Sight lines were a problem for folks sitting in the rear of the house, so either raising the stage more or putting the audience seats on risers is probably in the future. Concerns about the acoustics were quickly abated, as their sound system and sound designer did the job of allowing the audience to clearly hear the dialogue and singing with a minimum of distortion. Located just on the edge of the Windsor Town Green area, the Raven Theater Windsor is perfectly situated to provide an audience with new options for those looking for a night out on the town with dinner and a show.
With a running time of just under two hours (including the intermission/bingo game with “good Catholic prizes”), you should find yourself often chuckling and surely smiling a whole lot at the Little Sisters of Hoboken. With plenty of audience interaction, “Nunsense” is a perfect community theatre piece to introduce the Raven Players to a new community.
A Raven Players Production
April 4 through April 19
Evenings Fri, Sat @ 8pm – Matinees Sat/Sun @ 2pm
Thurs Apr 10 @ 8pm – Value Night
Raven Theater Windsor
195 Windsor River Rd
Windsor, CA 95492
Photo by Ray Mabry