By Gail Hayes
Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Patrons have seven opportunities to get in the Christmas spirit as Community Theatre of Terre Haute presents “Nuncrackers,” the Nunsense Christmas musical, directed by Josh Hoffman. It opens this Friday and continues through the weekend. Additional performances are Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 6-9. All performances begin at 8 p.m. except for the Sunday matinees, when show time is 2:30 p.m.
“Nuncrackers” is the fourth in the series of Nunsense musicals written by Dan Goggin. The Little Sisters of Hoboken are taping their first Christmas special in the basement of Mount Saint Helen’s Convent. The Reverend Mother (Sandra Groves) used prize money won earlier by Sister Amnesia (Denise Keegan) to build the TV studio. The Reverend Mother attempts to keep order as the taping ensues, but the problems that come with live TV bring different results.
The first problem is that Sister Leo (Jude Ciancone) misses her ballet debut due to injury. “The show must go on,” as the saying goes, so the sisters pull together for a one-of-a-kind rendition of “The Nutcracker,” featuring Sisters Hubert (Jill Shutt), Amnesia and Robert Anne (Trilla Stalling) as the swans.
Later, someone discovers that all the presents have been stolen from underneath the convent Christmas tree, causing further interruptions from telephone calls and trips to the police station. Sister Julia, the convent cook, is tied up at the police station when it’s time for her bit in the show, so Father Virgil (Mark Frederick) does his best to fill in for a Christmas fruitcake demonstration.
Also featured in the show are four winners of the Mount Saint Helen’s School talent competition. The students, who perform Santa’s Little Teapot and help tell the Nutcracker story, are played by Alaina Keegan, Michael Natt, Steven Nelson and Kiersten Padgett.
This show includes audience participation, with Secret Santa gift giving by Sister Amnesia in Act I and a sing-along in Act II. Audience members are also invited to join the convent in the hilarious “In the Convent” number, which sounds remarkably like “In the Navy” by The Village People.
There are also touching moments along the way, like when Father Virgil cheers up Maria (Alaina Keegan) with a special gift and song and Sister Robert Anne sings the story of the year her father had left the family before Christmas. “This song is especially meaningful because I know so many people who don’t have a father at home,” Stalling said.
This is the second time Groves is playing The Reverend Mother. The first time she got the role just a couple of days before the show opened. “It’s been nice to have more time to prepare this time,” Groves said with a smile. Her solo, “A Carnival Christmas,” describes a Christmas from her youth when she and her family traveled with a carnival and put on a most-unusual Christmas pageant.
Sister Hubert, on the other hand, is the serious one. “I wish I were in charge,” Shutt explains about her character. “So I think the Reverend Mother should get lost. I take everything pretty seriously.”
The ticket office is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, as well as one hour before show time. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and adults.
Community Theatre is at 25th and Washington streets. Learn more at www.ctth.org or call the ticket office at 812-232-7172.