Downtown Cabaret, Bridgeport
The Little Sisters of Hoboken are back in Downtown Cabaret, Bridgeport, in Dan Goggin’s continuing saga of their adventures. It is Goggin’s latest show in his “Nunsense” series, this time appropriately called “Nunset Boulevard” because the sisters are in Hollywood, eager to become film stars.
Granted that the nuns are growing “old in the tooth,” as they themselves proclaim. It is the sixth “Nunsense” show, and Goggin, indeed, has created a successful long-running cottage industry. (The nuns and their nonsense have surfaced here, there and everywhere, throughout the world.) But, in fact, the newest show is perky as ever, with tunes and lyrics that are familiar, yet fresh.
Though casts may change, and their adventures vary, it is indeed the same five nuns—Reverend Mother Regina (a former circus performer), Sister Mary Hubert (the Mistress of Novices), Sister Robert Anne (a streetwise nun from Brooklyn), Sister Mary Leo (a novice and wannabe ballerina), and Sister Mary Amnesia (the nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head).
What are they doing in Hollywood? The inventive Goggin has them invited to sing at the Hollywood Bowl, which they accept with alacrity. But, alas, it is not THE Hollywood Bowl, but the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama, a bowling alley with a small cabaret lounge. Nonetheless, they forge ahead, with a bevy of appealing ballads and other Goggin tunes. Particularly delightful is “The Plot,” with its clever lyrics--a piece in which Sister Mary Hubert insists that their act calls for a plot. Bambi Jones, who plays that role, has a rich voice which can shake the rafters. But, in fact, all five—including Lisa Asher, Laurie Birmingham, Jeanne Tinker, and Stephanie Wahl--are skilled performers, offering up song-and-movement routines that never falter. Every sound and move is right on target.
If there is criticism, it is that Goggin feels compelled, on several occasions, to call for audience participation. Pulling audience members up onstage for a so-called auction, the show’s professionalism comes to a dead halt. Also annoying are the tiresome clichés which pass for jokes and intersperse the song-and-dance numbers.
But such criticisms are minor. All told, “Nunset Boulevard” serves as pleasant escapism in these times of worldwide troubles. And, while Goggin pokes fun at the Little Sisters of Hoboken, it is with affection and tolerance. There is a sweet innocence to “Nunset Boulevard,” as with all “Nunsense” shows, a quality which sends the audience out into the night air with feel-good vibes.
Mar. 28, 2011