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Sat, March 28

Nunsense

In the mood to clap your hands, tap your toes and laugh until you cry? Well, fans of old-time musical comedy are in for a real treat...Wacky fun, nunly horseplay and side-splitting jokes are being offered up generously in Canyon Moon Theatre's season finale production of Nunsense that runs from June 16 to July 3.

Written and composed by Dan Goggin, Nunsense provides the audience with a witty and fun-filled evening of entertainment. The improbable premise of the show is irreverent and irresistible. Nunsense is a hilarious talent show staged by the five surviving members of the Little Sisters of Hoboken ‹ the rest of the sisterhood having succumbed to botulism after eating vichyssoise prepared by the convent chef Sister Julia, Child of God. The remaining sisters parade their talents at a variety show staged to raise money for the internment of the final four of the 52 dearly departed.

Hailed by the New York Times as "Habit-forming" and by the Boston Globe as "Zany, Beguiling Fun!" Nunsense won four Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Off-Broadway Musical. It is the second longest running musical in off-Broadway history and has been performed across the world in 26 languages.

For all its craziness, Nunsense is based on personal experience. Goggin, a former seminarian, was brought up in Roman Catholic schools and had a thoroughly happy parochial school experience.

"Many of the nuns who taught me were funny people -- I only recall one who was in any way severe," he said. "Every nun in the show is based on someone I knew growing up. Of all the people who attend the show, the greatest fans are priests and nuns."

The creative team that brought you Suds ­ director Mary G. Guaraldi, musical director Eric Hoy Tucker and choreographer Martha Edwards ­ return to help the Little Sisters raise funds. The lighting design is by Lyrica Tyree who has designed such CMTC hits as Proof and The Lion in Winter.

Nunsense marks the last play of the seventh season and the final production at the theater's current location at the Old Marketplace. CMTC is currently looking for a new home.

"It's so much fun and fun for anyone of any religion," Guaraldi says during a rehearsal. "I knew we could cast it and cast it well. It's a wonderful, fun way to say good-bye to this space."

The musical score includes burlesque as well as blues and jazz with an Andrew sisters-style, said musical director Eric Hoy Tucker, who is assistant professor of voice at Central Michigan University. Tucker assisted with the music in last summer's production of Suds and returns from Michigan to lend his talents for this musical.

Helen Brown, Mother Superior, and Sabrina Carlson, Sister Leo, are newcomers to the CMTC stage. After an extensive career in Los Angeles, Brown became an integral part of the theatre in Sedona and played the role of the Reverend Mother when Nunsense was done at the Sedona Arts Center. Carlson has appeared on stage in Flagstaff for Northern Arizona University and Theatrikos.

"This is the fifth time I've been a Mother Superior," Brown confided during a recent rehearsal, adding, "I just want to get back in that habit."

Rebecca Cauthen was at the piano for Forever Plaid, the first show ever done by Canyon Moon Theatre. Over the past seven years she has played for several CMTC musicals including last season's hit Suds.

The part of Sister Hubert is played by Christina Halstead. Halstead just finished doing the role of Sally Talley in CMT's hit Talley's Folly. She moved to the area from upstate New York where she was active as a singer, actress, choreographer and teacher.

Dev Ross, Sister Robert Anne, returns to the Canyon Moon stage after appearances in The Nerd, How the Other Half Loves and Steel Magnolias. Besides being a triple threat on stage, Dev is a successful screen and television writer. Shondra Thomas-Jepperson, Sister Amnesia, delighted audiences as Marge the memorable angel with a heart of gold and a quick tongue in Suds. Shondra also performs in one of Sedona's most popular duos, Tom & Shondra.

Nunsense, will run from June 16 to July 3. General admission tickets are $17; full-time students are $10. Tickets for Thursday performances are $13. For more information or to reserve tickets for Nunsense, call Canyon Moon Theatre Company at (928) 282-6212 or visit the Web at www.canyonmoontheatre.org. Tickets are also available at Rycus Corners in the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona Books & Music in the Bashas' Shopping Center. Canyon Moon Theatre, 1370 W. Arizona 89A, in the Old Marketplace in West Sedona.

Subscribe to the Canyon Moon e-mail list so that you never miss a production or a poetry slam or a special event. To subscribe, call Canyon Moon at (928) 282-6212. CMTC is a professional nonprofit theater that serves the northern Arizona community and its guests.

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