NICEVILLE — Ya gotta love singing and dancing nuns, especially when they’re the Little Sisters of Hoboken. I’ve had a thing for them ever since my pal Dan and I bought tickets to see the original “Nunsense” from a man hawking his while we waited in the TKTS line in Times Square.
Understandably, the Theatre Development Fund folks who run TKTS warn you not to buy tickets from anyone but them, but this time, we hit the jackpot. By the time we left the Douglas Fairbanks, our jaws hurt from laughing and my side hurt from when I slid out of my seat while howling during one hysterical scene. (It was the Act I closer when Mother Superior accidentally gets stoned.) But we were hooked. As the show’s tagline reads, “Nunsense is habit-forming.”
Such is the humor awaiting the local audience Nov. 29 when Cindy Williams, of “Laverne & Shirley” TV fame, stars as Mother Superior in the touring production of “Nunset Boulevard” coming to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College. She joins a long and distinguished cast who’ve performed the character, including Kaye Ballard, Rue McClanahan, Sally Struthers, Phyllis Diller, Honor Blackman and Edie Adams.
“Nunsense,” Dan Goggin’s loving homage to his Catholic formative years, begun as a line of greeting cards, has grown into a substantial franchise. He followed with “Nunsense 2: The Second Coming,” “Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical” and four more installments. He even oversaw a special New Orleans production of “Nunsense,” restaged with actors in drag, called “Nunsense A-men.”
The original show has been translated into more than 20 languages and has been produced more than 8,000 times around the world. It was the second-longest running off-Broadway production in history, surpassed only by “The Fantastiks.”
The latest incarnation, “Nunset Boulevard,” a tender poke at “Sunset Boulevard,” Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical of Billy Wilder’s classic piece of 1950 film noir, finds the Little Sisters of Hoboken in California. They have been invited to perform at the Hollywood Bowl and are thrilled at the opportunity until they arrive and realize that they are actually booked into the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama — a bowling alley with a cabaret lounge — and not the famed outdoor amphitheater they envisioned.
New songs include “Hello Hollywood,” “The Bowling Ball Blues” and “The Flickers.”
There’s nothing terribly cerebral about any of the productions in the “Nunsense” franchise, and that’s most of the fun. Sometimes theatergoers just want to be entertained. And there’s nothing more engaging than singing and dancing nuns. Get in the habit on Nov. 29.