Before performances of “Nunsense” I have seen patrons enjoy the ambiance of the pre-show bonfire and the melodic tunes played over the garden speakers. The standard American classics harken to a more innocent, nostalgic time and out of the corner of my eye I catch a couple or two swaying to the music, perhaps reflecting on a wistful memory.
Dan Goggin took a trip down memory lane while crafting his musical comedy “Nunsense.” Dan is a writer, director, composer and lyricist who traveled to New York from Alma, Michigan to study as a classical countertenor.
Dan began his professional career singing in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of “Luther” starring Albert Finney. While appearing in a comic folk-duo called “The Saxons,” he began writing. He performed in and wrote the score for the Off-Broadway musical “Hark!,” the Broadway production of “Legend” and two revues.
Dan was taught by Dominican Sisters who left a very positive impression on him. Dan’s friends jokingly gave him a mannequin dressed as a Dominican nun and he was inspired to create a greeting card, which is mentioned in the script as a fundraising effort by Reverend Mother. Stationary stores urged Dan to expand his card stock before they would place them for sale. He eventually had a line of 12 nun-cards and used his friend Marilyn Farina as a model for the photographs.
Marilyn, an ex-dental assistant, was a hit! Dan sold 35,000 cards at the National Stationary Show. Card stores began asking for appearances of Ms. Farina in costume. Dan was inspired to turn these appearances into a cabaret show. Dan’s based his fictional Little Sisters of Hoboken of “Nunsense” on actual Sisters fron his educational experience.
Eventually the cabaret show became a full-length theater production that opened on December 12, 1985 at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre. Audience demand prompted the show to move uptown to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre where it ran for 10 years, or a total of 3,672 performances.
“Nunsense” was created more than 30 years ago, has been translated into 21 languages and has had more than 5,000 productions worldwide. Dan received the 1986 Outer Critics Circle Awards given to “Nunsense” for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Music.
There are more than 30,000 “nuns” in the “Nunsense” family, including Peninsula Players veterans. Peninsula Players first presented “Nunsense” in 1987, with Liz Pazik as Sister Mary Amnesia and we are thrilled she has returned to play Reverend Mother this fall. “Nunsense II” made its Players debut in 1993 with Karen Sheridan, the director of the Players current production of “Nunsense,” as Sister Mary Amnesia.
Christine Mild, who returns to the Players after a successful run as Patsy Cline last fall, is cast as Sister Robert Anne. She has played Sister Robert Anne all over the country in productions of “Nunsense” with Cape Playhouse, Theatre By the Sea and in the national tour of “Nunset Boulvard” with Cindy Williams of “Laverne & Shirley” fame.
Christine is featured on the recording of “Sister Robert Anne’s Cabaret Class.” Christine and Players’ castmate Stephanie Wahl are also on the recording of “Nunsense: 30th Anniversary Cast.”
Stephanie plays Sister Mary Amnesia in the Players production and also played Sister Mary Leo in the Off-Broadway production of “Nunsense, The 25th Anniversary.” Stephanie is also in a featured video on the official “Nunsense” website entitled “A Nunsense Lesson: Rockette to Nun.” Yes, Stephanie is a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette.
Players’ company members Cassie Slater and Ashley Lanyon have become members of the “Nunsense” family. Cassie plays the fun loving Sister Mary Hubert, Mistress of Novices, and Ashley plays Sister Mary Leo, an aspiring ballerina. These talented singers are backed by the Mount St. Helen’s band conducted by music director Valerie Maze and includes Andy Anderson on trumpet; Pamela Johnson on alto saxophone, flute and alto flute; Bruce Newbern on percussion; Kimberly Souther on keyboard and Paul Sowinski on bass.
“Nunsense”–mania has swept Door County. Join us by the bay! There are five performances remaining and you do not want to miss this talented cast. Join Reverend Mother, a former circus performer, and her four sisters as they stage a riotous variety show filled with comic misadventures that are sure to be habit-forming!
For tickets or more information about “Nunsense” visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or phone the Box Office at 920-868-3287. I look forward to seeing you by the bay this fall, where the sun sets, the bonfire burns bright, the curtain rises and the stars shine!