‘Nunsense’ returns to Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville

By Mary Therese Biebel - [email protected]
The Little Sisters of Hoboken return to the stage of the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville, where audiences can watch the ‘Nunsense’ characters sing and dance in a talent show. - Submitted photo
The cast of ‘Nunsense’ includes, front: Rachel Bath and Amanda Reese. Back: Kaylee Scritchfield, Debbie Zehner and Dana Feigenblatt. - Submitted photo
A trio from ‘Nunsense’ sings about ‘The Drive-In’ in a harmonious style reminiscent of The Andrews Sisters. - Submitted photo

SWOYERSVILLE — If you visit the Music Box Dinner Playhouse to see “Nunsense” over the next three weekends, Rachel Bath predicts you’ll get a kick out of watching the sisters tap dance together.

Jennifer Hunter suggests you’ll enjoy hearing them sing a gospel-style number called “Holier Than Thou.”

And if you admire close harmonies, Michael Gallagher said, be prepared for the nuns to wow you, in the perky style of The Andrews Sisters, with a song called “The Drive-In.”

Bath, of Bear Creek, plays the part of a novice nun; Hunter, of Dallas, is the show’s musical director; and Gallagher, of Wilkes-Barre, is directing “Nunsense,” so they all have different perspectives.

But everyone can agree the show, which runs Saturday through July 1, is designed to make you laugh.

“As characters, they’re peculiarly delightful, each in her own way,” Gallagher said of Reverend Mother, her “second-in-command” Sister Mary Hubert, “streetwise nun” Sister Robert Anne, enthusiastic novice Sister Mary Leo and forgetful Sister Mary Amnesia.

“The very premise of it — the nonsense of ‘Nunsense’ — is that they’re raising money to bury the last few sisters who died after eating a meal that Sister Julia, Child of God — just that phrase is funny — didn’t know was poison,” Gallagher said.

The convent cook, whose name sounds so celebrity chef-like, isn’t the only Little Sister of Hoboken with a unusual moniker. The script mentions a Sister Mary Myopia, who serves as instructor of archery, and introduces a Sister Mary Annette, who is a puppet.

Sister Mary Amnesia is played by Kaylee Scritchfield, of Peckville, and, if her name isn’t enough to hint at disaster, perhaps the name of Mt. St. Helen’s Convent will do.

Over the past few decades Music Box has had great success in bringing “Nunsense” to the stage — eight times by Gallagher’s count.

Back in the habit are Debbie Zehner and Dana Feigenblatt, both of Kingston, and Amanda Reese, of Wyoming, who portray, respectively, Reverend Mother, Sister Robert Anne and Sister Mary Hubert.

“I’m not really streetwise,” Feigenblatt said before a rehearsal, joking about why she’s been cast as “the streetwise nun,” a one-time juvenile delinquent who reformed after a stint at St. Clare’s School for the Deplorable.

“You pull it off,” Scritchfield told her. “You’re doing a good job.”

While Gallagher had previous real-life experience with nuns — “12 years,” he said, automatically touching his palm as he recalled being smacked with a ruler — most of the cast did not

Zehner, for one, described herself as a Methodist who had to learn how to bless herself the first time she had the role in 1992.

With her comic abilities, Gallagher said, Zehner is a natural for the part of Reverend Mother.

“Quite honestly, we’ve had other people audition for this role over the years,” the director said. “No one’s ever been funnier.”

During previous “Nunsense” productions, Zehner remembers contributing some ad libs that directors have appreciated enough to keep. For example, during a scene in which the Reverend Mother isn’t feeling quite herself and has trouble getting to her feet, she’s been known to attribute it to “too much haluski at the bazaar.”

Somehow, you just know that’s a Northeastern Pennsylvania addition.

The Little Sisters of Hoboken return to the stage of the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville, where audiences can watch the ‘Nunsense’ characters sing and dance in a talent show.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_P2.jpgThe Little Sisters of Hoboken return to the stage of the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville, where audiences can watch the ‘Nunsense’ characters sing and dance in a talent show. Submitted photo

The cast of ‘Nunsense’ includes, front: Rachel Bath and Amanda Reese. Back: Kaylee Scritchfield, Debbie Zehner and Dana Feigenblatt.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_P3.jpgThe cast of ‘Nunsense’ includes, front: Rachel Bath and Amanda Reese. Back: Kaylee Scritchfield, Debbie Zehner and Dana Feigenblatt. Submitted photo

A trio from ‘Nunsense’ sings about ‘The Drive-In’ in a harmonious style reminiscent of The Andrews Sisters.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_P4.jpgA trio from ‘Nunsense’ sings about ‘The Drive-In’ in a harmonious style reminiscent of The Andrews Sisters. Submitted photo
Swoyersville stage familiar to Little Sisters of Hoboken

By Mary Therese Biebel

[email protected]

IF YOU GO

What: ‘Nunsense’

Where: Music Box Dinner Playhouse, 196 Hughes St., Swoyersville

When: Saturday through July 1 with shows 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Dinner is served 90 minutes before curtain.

Tickets: $35 for dinner and the show; $25 for children 12 and younger; $18 for show-only tickets; $14 for students and military

Reservations: 570-283-2195 or [email protected]

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.