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LIGHTNING REVIEW: Death stings not singing nuns

Lilly Tobin stars as Sister Mary Amnesia.

One might surmise that the deaths of 52 nuns to food poisoning and the burial of 48, leaving four in the freezer to be deep-sixed when the order raises the money, would be an impossible setup for a grin-inducing musical comedy.

Nonsense? No, it's "Nunsense," and it works impossibly well.
The surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken are the happiest bereaved sorority that you'd ever want to meet. They're terrific singers moreover, and they bring the audience along with their irresistible command that "we're having fun and you should too."
Nunsense, starring Melissa Hammans, Gwendolyn Jones, Beth Kuhn, Lilly Tobins and Amy Toporek, with "Father George Wilkins Jr." on piano, fills the downtown Playhouse stage with music and fun. Sometimes silly and over the top, it's always well performed.
Launching an emergency show to raise money to bury the frozen sisters, the sisters march onto the gym floor at Mt. St. Helen's school, decorated for "Grease" the spring musical.
"We're here to prove that nuns are fun," they sing.
"Though we're on our way to heaven
"We're here to raise some hell."
That they do, for the next two hours.
After a card deck worth of sisters drops dead of botulism from eating Vicchyssoise, the nuns compete with another for a starring role, ham it up and generally take the audience on a fun ride. They don't just whistle past the graveyard, they sing and dance.
Gwendolyn Jones, as sister Mary Regina, goes from stern mother superior to a hilarious bit of physical comedy across three bar stools after she sniffs a hallucinogen that a nun found in the bathroom.
Beth Kuhn, as sister Robert Anne, follows her co-starring role in the Music of Abba with another fine performance in the downtown venue. She looks like she's having fun. The whole cast does, as they sing their featured songs and continue to cut up.
The show is full of Henny Youngman-like one-liners. "She asked me how do you get down off a duck. I said how'd you get up there in the first place? ... How do you make holy water? You boil the hell out of it."
The superior mother says of sister Robert Anne: "When they told me she was street smart, I thought she knew her way around town. This gal knows things you don't even see on cable TV."
From "Nunsense is Habit Forming" at the top of the show to the song's reprise at the end, the cast sings and dances through 19 songs. The sisters make it an easy habit to get into.