Lucille Ball Little Theatre Presents: Nunsensations

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The actresses from Nunsensations pose during rehearsal.
The actresses from Nunsensations pose during rehearsal.

Article Contributed by
Cortney Linnecke

Vegas showgirls, wild gambling, feathery headdresses, and… a convent of nuns. One of these things is not like the other, right?

Wrong. Actually, in the musical Nunsensations: The Nunsense Vegas Review, all of these belong together as the necessary ingredients to form a hilarious, off-the-wall production. And for the next two weekends, the Lucille Ball Little Theatre will bring exactly this production to life for Jamestown audiences. Under the direction of long-time Little Theatre member Helen Merrill, Nunsensations will be performed this weekend and next, Friday through Sunday.

“Nunsensations is such a fun, different story, and we’re featuring a lot of local talent in our cast,” Merrill said. “I think people are really going to love it.”

The premise of Nunsensations is simple: when a parishioner offers a $10,000 donation to a school run by the Little Sisters of Hoboken, the nuns are thrilled. But there’s a catch: to receive the money, they must agree to perform in a Vegas nightclub. After convincing their stern, disapproving Reverend Mother (Jennifer Davis) that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” the entire convent heads out on an unforgettable adventure through Sin City that is sure to have audiences laughing from start to finish.

Nunsensations is one of ten comedy-musicals about the Little Sisters of Hoboken, all of which have stemmed from the original show, Nunsense. Director Helen Merrill said that while it is her first time directing Nunsensations, she has directed several of the franchise’s other musicals in the 53 years that she and her husband have been involved with the Lucille Ball Little Theatre.

“I think this show adds great variety to the theatre’s 2016-2017 season,” Merrill said. “The music in this show is all so original and different: there’s everything from ballads to rock’n’roll. And our choreographer, Jennie Cross, has done a stunning job with the choreography.”

Nunsensations is sure to stand out amongst Little Theatre’s lineup of shows this year. Besides its unconventional plot, it also features interactive scenes with the audience, and the band – comprised of synthesizer, keyboard, piano, and drums – sits on the stage, not in a pit.

The “Take-A-Seat” fundraiser, hosted by the Lucille Ball Little Theatre, will raffle off artisan chairs for the Theatre Restoration Fund.

“There’s a lot of audience play,” Merrill said. “The actors come right down into the audience and talk with them during the show. We even have a game show that the audience participates in and people can win prizes.”

The musical, which was put together in five short weeks, is comprised entirely of volunteers from the greater Jamestown area. Merrill herself sewed the costumes, her husband Norm helped construct sets, Lucille Miller provided musical direction and Jason Dorman designed lights and staging as the technical director. While shows are always under a time crunch, Merrill explained, the cast and crew always pull together to get everything done by the time the lights dim on opening night.

“The entire production is put on by volunteers – only the show director and technical director receive small stipends,” Merrill said. “When you work in community theatre, it’s just a big team effort… Everyone here has been outstanding. We just have so much talent in this area, and this is a great place to show it off.”

The Lucille Ball Little Theatre will draw the curtain for Nunsensations for the first time at 7:30 p.m. this Friday. It will also feature a Mother’s Day special at this Sunday’s matinee: all mothers attending the show will receive tickets at half price.

While you’re there for the show, be sure to stop by the lobby and check out the chairs for raffle in the theatre’s “Take-A-Seat” fundraiser. The chairs are handcrafted by local artists and will be given away in a drawing at the theatre’s 80th anniversary celebration in June. It costs $5 for a sheet of 25 tickets, which can be used towards any and all chairs. Proceeds for the fundraiser will go towards the Theatre Restoration Fund.

For information about the fundraiser, Nunsensations, or to buy show tickets, call the theater’s box office at (716) 483-1095 or visit www.LucilleBallLittleTheatre.org.