In 1985, the musical comedy Nunsense began a ten year off-Broadway run. Several sequels later the Christmas musical Nuncrackers was born. A local production of the spoof opens Friday at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre.
The whole concept of Nunsense originated as a line of greeting cards featuring a nun making clever remarks with a clerical slant.
Creator Dan Goggin’s cards caught on so quickly that he then created a show that ended up as the second-longest running Off-Broadway show ever. So, Goggin kept writing sequels. In Nuncrackers, we are reintroduced to five nuns, the Little Sisters of Hoboken, as they prepare to celebrate Christmas.
The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre’s Nicki Poer is director and choreographer for the show. She says, “The premise behind Nuncrackers is that it is a television taping of Mount Saint Helen’s convents’ very first Christmas special. And, they’ve turned their basement into a television studio with the winnings that they received from the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.”
As the nuns present their public-access television special, the audience gets a look at what goes on behind the scenes. The director says the storyline gives clues as to why each nun has her unique characteristics.
“We get to see these characters and hear about their pasts, how they had trouble growing up, like they were bullied or they came from a broken home and how they dealt with that," says Poer. "It humanizes the characters. And, I think we see this kind of universal message that no matter how you grew up we are all the same. We all are human and have those qualities that make us human.”
For example, the Reverend Mother, Sister Mary Regina, is a former circus performer who can’t resist the spotlight. Sister Robert Anne from Brooklyn has a lot of “street smarts.”
The play contains some favorite carols, as well as songs with titles like "Santa Ain’t Comin’ to Our House” and “Twelve Days Prior to Christmas” and, of course a rendition of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet “The Nutcracker.” Nuncrackers runs November 23 through December 9 on the main stage at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre.