'Nunsense' opens Friday at Ragged Edge

November 09, 2003|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

HARRODSBURG - Susan Pope got her feet wet as a community theater actress in "Nunsense" six years ago. Now, she's in the director's chair for "Nunsense," which opens Friday at Ragged Edge Community Theater.

"Sister Leo was my first community theater acting role when West T. Hill did the show six years ago, and so it's exciting to be making my community theater directing debut with this show," says Pope, who most recently played Meg in RECT's production of "Crimes of the Heart."

She likes the script because it "is fast-paced, well-written and very funny."

"It's very funny - pure entertainment," she notes.

"Nunsense" is a musical comedy "about nuns who teach at a Catholic junior high school," Pope says.

"The premise for the show is that in a freak accident, the convent cook, Sister Julia (Child of God) recently served some tainted soup, poisoning most of the nuns in the convent, and the few remaining nuns are hard-pressed for funds to bury all of their sisters," the director explains. "In fact, four nuns are stored in the convent freezer.


"Expecting a visit from the local health inspector any minute and desperate to raise the money, the nuns are putting on a benefit performance - with songs, dances, a rather scandalous puppet act, a tap number and many unexpected twists."

It's been a challenging first-time endeavor for the director, who once was involved with a children's creative drama production for Watershed Arts Alliance in Somerset.

"This show has a very diverse cast and the script requires a wide range of singing and acting and dancing abilities," explains Pope, who has studied acting and directing, and student-directed at Centre College. "It's definitely been a challenge to pull these different voices and styles together into a cohesive whole.

"We've also worked very hard to find the relationships between the characters. The sisters live together and have been through so much together. They know one another very well and care for each other deeply."

Characters are a diverse group

The characters of "Nunsense" are a diverse group. There is Sister Mary Regina (Betsy Fleischer), the Mother Superior, "a feisty, take-charge woman with an eccentric background, who does, however, have a disturbing tendency to 'lose her head.'" And Sister Mary Hubert (Doris Bartleson), the "mistress of novices."

"She holds things together behind the scenes rather quietly until she gets to preaching during her gospel number," notes Pope, who has acted with RECT, WTHCT, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and Arts for Kids, ETC.

Sister Robert Anne (Jessica Ormsby) "grew up a tough kid from Brooklyn who was sent to Catholic school in junior high and ended up becoming a nun."

"She can relate to the kids she teaches in a way some of the nuns can't," Pope says, "and she goes out of her way to keep them interested in school, driving Mother Superior batty with her unconventional behavior."

Sister Amnesia (Melissa Combs) is "blissfully clueless since losing her memory in an accident."

"A crucifix fell on her head," Pope notes. "She tries Mother Superior's patience to the max. Her goal in life is to remember who she is."

Sister Mary Leo (Jessica Livengood) is new to the convent.

"She is very young and only recently entered the novitiate. She is determined that her vows will not interfere with her love of dance or her ambition to become a famous ballerina," Pope explains.

Sister Cardelia (Kimberlee Jordan) is the stage manager for "Nunsense."

"She found stardom when she was chosen as the model for the convent's hugely successful greeting card company - an earlier effort to raise funds. Since then, we've never been able to keep her backstage calling those light cues," Pope says.

The "high energy" of "Nunsense" has been a challenge for the actors, she adds.

"It is very physically and vocally demanding for the actors, all of whom are on stage most of the time."

"Nunsense" has the unusual aspect of interaction between the audience and the actors.

"For example, the theater itself will be transformed into Mount Saint Helen's Convent School," Pope explains. "Nuns will be everywhere, and audience members will be able to talk with them."

Collaboration for aspects such as design, dance and artwork has been important to creating "Nunsense," Pope says.

"The result is creative input that I never could have come up with on my own, and I'm very excited about the result."

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