Lively musical awaits

Musical: `Nunsense,' beginning run at Music Hall tomorrow, puts comedy back in genre

Arundel Live

January 13, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When composer Irving Berlin penned "There's No Business Like Show Business" in 1945, he could hardly have imagined how amazing show business would become 40 years later.

In 1984, Dan Coggin, a former Jesuit who designed greeting cards featuring nuns, decided to do a little show based on the adventures of five nuns that he figured would last for four performances. Those four shows expanded to 38 weeks.

"Nunsense" has played continuously somewhere from coast to coast and abroad since its debut in New York City. And it is Chesapeake Music Hall's opening show for 2000, running from tomorrow through Feb. 13.

Coggin wrote the book, music and lyrics with characters based on nuns he had known and admired as a boy in Catholic schools.

Coggin's story tells of five nuns who were lucky enough to be playing bingo at another parish the night 52 nuns died of botulism after eating contaminated vichyssoise at their Hoboken, N.J., convent.

There were sufficient funds to bury 48 of the dead, but the nuns needed to raise money to bury the other four sisters. To do this, the five sisters decided to put on a show, dancing and singing and displaying their talents, with the fun going into high gear as the sisters practice their acts.

Coggin's satirizing of convent life should gain an extra dimension when the Music Hall's cast of nuns hits the boards.

The role of Mother Superior, Mother Mary Regina, will be played by Carol Cohen, long a favorite at the Music Hall and around Annapolis.

Cohen's memorable Music Hall performances include Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof" and Mrs. Dilber in the 1998 "Christmas Carol."

Cohen is also remembered for her portrayal of Kate Jerome in Colonial Players' production of "Broadway Bound."

Sister Mary Hubert is played by Scotti Preston, who will be making her Music Hall debut. After receiving her bachelor's degree in theater from Howard University, this native Marylander did a stint in European theaters that included appearing in a German version of "West Side Story."

Preston also served as backup singer with pop groups in Sweden, where she was also seen in a number of commercials. She is a founding member of One Voice, a gospel choir. Since her return to Maryland, she has been active as a jazz singer and storyteller.

Pamela Peach of Columbia will make her Music Hall debut in the role of Sister Mary Amnesia. Peach is familiar to Annapolis audiences for her performances at Colonial Players and at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. She has also been seen in a number of shows at Toby's Dinner Theatre.

Mary Armour Kaiser plays Sister Mary Robert Ann. Well known to CMH audiences, Armour Kaiser will be remembered for her lively portrayal of Bonnie in last summer's "Anything Goes" and for her delightful dancing in "42nd Street." Those of us who saw her as Lucy in February in Music Hall's "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" have a memory to treasure, especially in view of the recent demise of the comic strip.

Although she is a relative newcomer to Music Hall, Danielle Treuberg, who will play Sister Mary Leo, has made her mark at the dinner theater as Mrs. Harcourt in "Anything Goes" and its most recent "Christmas Carol," when she played the roles of Belle and Mrs. Dilber.

This talented cast of players should romp through "Nunsense" in fine style. These fine dancers and singers should bring out every comic nuance in the script.

In "Nunsense," there is enough humor to brighten the coldest January nights. This is a show that puts the comedy back into musical comedy.

Performances are on Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons and selected Wednesday afternoons and Thursday evenings.

Tickets are $31.50 for Friday and Saturday evenings and $28.50 for Sunday and Wednesday matinees. The price includes a buffet.

Chesapeake Music Hall is off U.S. 50 on Busch's Frontage Road.

Reservations: 410-626-7515 or 1-800-406-0306.

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