‘Nunsense’ is habit forming

Lizzie Martinez

One nun turns to the other and says, “How do you make holy water?” Without missing a comedic beat, the same nun answers, “You boil the hell out of it.”

“Nunsense” is a musical comedy that doesn’t shy away from any topic. The jokes are delivered by five energetic nuns, in full habits.

McMinnville joins the world in producing its own “Nunsense” revue. The show runs at the Gallery Theater, 210 NE Ford St. every weekend until March 15. It plays Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with the Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $13 for students with ID.

From the beginning of the play, the audience joins the nuns on a laugh-filled ride through the history of their convent, a brush with drugs and a cooking sketch.

The ridiculous premise starts at the Little Sisters of Hoboken convent. The cook, Sister Julia Child of God, has accidentally poisoned and killed 52 of the nuns with her vicious vichyssoise soup.

Though 48 of the nuns were successfully buried, the Reverend Mother’s sudden desire for a big screen TV led to the last four nuns being interred in the convent freezer.

As the possibility of a visit from the city health department looms, the nuns take to the stage in a variety show benefit at the local school gym to fundraise for the last four nuns’ burial money.

Playing the strict Reverend Mother Mary Regina, Kathleen Walters corrals the other nuns into two hours worth of musical fun and jokes.

Linfield’s own Dawn Graff-Haight, professor of health and human performance, stars as Sister Mary Hubert. Second in command to the Reverend Mother, Sister Hubert strives to inject humor into every moment.

Sister Robert Anne, played by April Wilcox, is the street-smart nun trying to prove herself worthy of a solo.

Dreamy Sister Mary Amnesia is brought to life by Grace Swanson. Having been found wandering in France, Sister Amnesia brings unintentional hilarity to the show and a surprise ending.

Rounding out the cast is Charity Benham as novice Sister Mary Leo, who chose the convent over life as a ballerina, though her dancing tendencies show through her habit.

From tap dancing to flying nuns, the show tackles every obvious topic and makes some not-so-obvious jokes. The obligatory pope joke comes late in the show, but the sisters begin the fundraiser by modeling appropriate and not-so-appropriate attire using audience models.

The audience learns how to properly address a Reverend Mother and laugh at her jokes. But there is no need to pretend to be having a good time during “Nunsense.” The jokes will keep you rolling from the first habit-forming song.

Though the plot is contrived, this musical comedy is not. “Nunsense” was conceived by playwright Dan Goggin in 1986. 

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