By Don Goggin
Directed by Wade Hair
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
Catholic school – you can’t ever make enough fun with it. Some people in this town make an entire careers beating on the topic, and tonight the Breakthrough Company takes its shot at the Virgin Mary with the third script in the “Nunsense” series. “Nuncrackers” puts us in a low budget studio for a grade school pageant on “Made-for-cable” TV in Hoboken, NJ. Personally, I find Passaic or even Weehawken funnier than Hoboken, but that’s just the writer in me leaking out. As we find our seat, the Mt. St. Helens School evangelism committee greets us, asking leading theological questions, offering homilies and hoping someone will volunteer for the building and grounds committee, or at least donate a new riding lawn mower.
Like any other group, this school is filled with people hoping to escape the ordinary – Sister Robert Anne (Keith Newhouse) wants to dance, Sister Amnesia (Marcie Schwalm) is haunted by the ghost of a rude puppet, and mother superior Sister Regina(Karen-Edwards-Hill) hopes to enforce God’s will against all the forces of human nature. A chorus of small children add an element of cuteness, and hovering overall we find genial father Virgil (Kent Walker). While there’s plenty of silly onstage, there’s an actual antagonist protagonist relation – Sister Robert Ana is dying to dance the Nutcracker, but must overcome a backstage injury and a general lack of dance skills. Her injury propels a rather convoluted story that plays out over some homey and occasionally funny jokes. While the technical level of this show is not up to Breakthrough’s typical standards, the second act makes up for most of the sins of act one. Sister Mary Hubert (Malcolm Pearson) belts a moving and soulful ballad, the Village People sing “In The Convent and Sister Robert Ana is miraculously cured, but no one seems to notice, including Robert Ann herself.
Yeah, there are some missed jokes and the plot seems about as neat as a gift wrapped by a four year old, but the cast seems to know and accept that. There’s a feeling of good will and “let’s put on a show” and the Nutcracker as finally danced is good, silly fun. It may not be the crispest show you’ll see this season, but they do have the air-conditioning set on Northern Wisconsin.
For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com