By Dan Goggin. Camden Musical Society. The Old St Thomas Chapel, Narellan. Nov 8 – 12, 2023

Could anything be any more perfect than staging Nunsense in a church? Camden Musical Society nailed venue choice with their latest offering, and they’ve done fabulously with the show itself. Nunsense is an hilarious and heart-warming musical comedy that combines wit, charm, and a touch of irreverence. Written by Dan Goggin, the play follows the misadventures of six nuns from the Little Sisters of Hoboken who find themselves in a fundraising predicament after a tragic cooking accident wipes out most of their convent. It doesn’t take itself seriously, and neither should you. Grab a cuppa and get ready to laugh. With a mix of clever humour, plenty of dad jokes, catchy songs, and endearing characters, Nunsense is a crowd-pleasing theatrical experience. There were undoubtedly laughs plenty on opening night. 

The central characters in Nunsense are the nuns. That’s a given. They each have unique personalities and quirks. Sister Mary Regina (Inge Marais), as Mother Superior, is strict but loveable, with a dry sense of humour that shows us a cheeky side. Sister Mary Hubert (Hayleigh Burman) is the second-in-command, with a competitive streak that often clashes with Regina's authority and boy can Burman sing. Sister Robert Anne (Emily Boardman) is the streetwise and rebellious nun, with Boardman easily taking on plenty of the comic moments. Sister Mary Amnesia (Kate Shaw) is a sweet and innocent nun with memory loss. Shaw also delivers some of the play's most comical moments, most memorably with a puppet. Sister Mary Leo (Molly Quinnell) is the youngest and most ambitious of the group, aspiring to become the world's first ballerina nun and, finally, Sister Mary Myopia (Jude Taylor) treading the boards for the first time. Each character brings something unique to the dynamic, creating a solid ensemble. 

Director Bree-Anna Lindsey finds a perfect balance between light-hearted humour and moments of genuine emotion. The witty dialogue and clever wordplay keep the audience engaged and constantly amused, while heartfelt songs reveal the nuns' dreams, struggles, and aspirations. The play's structure revolves around a series of comedic skits, musical numbers, and lively interaction with the audience, ensuring a steady stream of laughter throughout. Don’t expect a fourth wall. The audience is part of the show. 

While Nunsense showcases the humorous side of convent life, it also touches on deeper themes of friendship, faith, and self-discovery. As the nuns navigate their fundraising efforts, they learn to support one another, embrace their talents, and rediscover their purpose. The underlying message of finding joy and laughter in the face of adversity resonates with audiences of all backgrounds.

The play's production elements add to its overall appeal. Set in a church. Brilliant. Given the church captures the essence of a convent environment, the focus remains on the characters and their witty banter. Consider taking a pillow to sit on. The pews are real, and for delicate tooshies, the discomfort will be as well. 

Sasja Benman’s choreography blends traditional dance styles with comedic spins, adding an extra layer of entertainment to the performances. Tap dancing and burlesque nuns are eye-wateringly funny. 

Micheal Jiear, who leads the orchestra from a remote building on the church property, has worked hard with the cast, ensuring beautiful harmonies from the cast as MD. 

Nunsense features a delightful soundtrack with a variety of catchy and memorable songs.

"Nunsense is Habit-Forming" is an upbeat and humorous opening number that sets the tone for the entire show as the nuns introduce themselves and their unique personalities. “Playing Second Fiddle", sung by Sister Mary Hubert, the competitive and ambitious nun, provides her moment to shine in this lively song. She longs to take on a more significant role within the convent, showcasing her strong voice and commanding stage presence.

"Holier Than Thou" is a clever and comical song featuring all the nuns. The rapid-fire lyrics and witty rhymes make it a crowd favourite.

Nunsense has become a beloved staple in the world of musical theatre due to its universal appeal and hilarious moments. Its infectious humour and relatable characters have made it a favourite among audiences for over three decades.

The talented nuns of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, with their distinct personalities and comedic charm, create a dynamic and entertaining ensemble. Whether you're a fan of musical theatre or simply looking for a light-hearted and feel-good experience, Nunsense is a production that is sure to leave you smiling and humming its catchy tunes long after the final curtain call.

Nicole Smith

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