Friday June 23rd 2017

“Nunset Boulevard

Nuns! Nuns! Just how many shows can Dan Goggin’s create using Nuns as his featured characters? I guess the answer is “infinite”! As long as there are audience members to fill the seats! As long as there are community theaters seeking an easy show to put on! As long as there are people who are seeking diversion from the life they are leading and seek to escape to another place ( and one with religion, may help)! I myself, have grown tired of more of these shows, yet , once there, I laugh at what I find funny. I mean, in spite of getting “old” the material has some very bright spots and the current production of the newest in this long series, “Nunset Boulevard” now on the stage at Theatre at the Center in beautiful Munster, Indiana is fits this to perfection!

The production has a wonderful director/choreographer, Stacey Flaster, who we have watched grow from ensemble member to choreographer to directorto both over the past years. During these years we have seen the quality of her work and know how powerful her imagination is in coming up with that something special to make an audience say, “WOW!”. In this production, Stacey is limited by a weak book that allows for very little imagination to come forth. Even casting  some of Chicago’s finest, Alene Robertson as Reverend Mother, Felicia Fields ( the Tony  Award Nominee,Felicia Fields) as Sister Hubert,the powerful Mary Robin Roth as Sister Robert Anne, the adorable Lauren Creel as Sister  Amnesia and Nicole Miller as Sister Leo. All powerful actresses, who can dance and sing with the best of them! The problem is the material they have to present.

The story line of this one is that the Little Sisters of  Hoboken have been invited to sing at the Hollywood Bowl. They are thrilled and excited about this very special invitation but once they arrive, they find out it is not THE Hollywood Bowl, but the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama lanes and bar. As the Nuns prepare to put on their “revue” they find out there is a casting call for a new movie that will be made about Dolores Hart ( an actress who became a Nun) entitled “Nunset Boulevard: A Song From The Hart”. They all think about what their lives would be if they were movie stars and as the show goes on, we watch as each of them dream about their life as we hear the bowling noises and hear the PA announcement. There is some clever interaction with the audience, once in the the first act, but a much larger scale in the second act when three audience members are invited to play a quiz show and the two finalists get to “bowl a Turkey” , a strange new twist to an expression bowlers have used for eons! very cute.

The set by Stephen Carmody is very bowling alley bar and the lighting by Denise Karczewski and sound by Barry G. Funderburg all add to the overall picture. The costumes by Brenda Winstead are unique in that while they are Nuns and spend most of their time in their habits, some unique add-ons are used in special numbers that will bring a smile to your face and some laughter to your heart. I do not know if the props  (Libby Fandrei)person of the costume person handled the special puppet-like costumes, but they were adorable as was the  “The Hollywood Blondes” number that went with it. There are some nice musical numbers in this, the 7th episode of these ladies, “Don’t Look Back”, “There was a Time” and “Where is The Rainbow?” handled by these ladies under the astute musical direction of  William Underwood and his small but powerful orchestra.

As I said earlier, the talent is strong from the very top- great singers, comics, dancers ( even Ms Robertson can still handle the high kick), but this type of “revue” belongs in a smaller, cabaret type venue. One where a drink is readily available and the audience and actors are very close to each other allowing for the feeling of “being in on” what it is that is going on. The largeness of the Theatre at the Center, while perfect for most of the Broadway type shows they do, makes this show feel small and makes the audience feel distant form the action. I am sure that those who visit Munster during the run of the show ( through  May 29th) will have a fun time. There are  plenty of laughs and the show will act as a diversion from your everyday troubles. It will release some of this stress and allow you to walk out of the theater with a smile on your face and a song in your heart and after all, isn’t that what theater is supposed to do?

The show runs through May 29th with performances as follows:

Wednesday and Thursday afternoons at 2 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets range in price from $36-$40 ( a very comfortable rate for two hours of fun) and can be purchased at the theater located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster ( a short drive from downtown Chicago), by phone at 800-511-1552 or online ( where you can also get directions to the theater) at www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com

Plenty of free parking and as you head toward the theater from the freeway, you will find many types of eateries, from fast food to moderate sit down and being in Munster, far more affordable than what you would pay in Illinois ( gas is a bit cheaper as well).

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