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Video interview: ‘Nunsense: A-Men’ at the Straz Center

Bill DeYoung

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There are seven shows in playwright Dan Coggin’s Nunsense musical comedy universe, and actor Matthew McGee can rattle off most of the titles: “There’s Nunsense II: The Second Coming, Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, Nuncrackers, Meshugga-Nuns …” the actor said in a laugh-filled Catalyst video interview.  

McGee has the role of Reverend Mother in the upcoming Straz Center production of Nunsense: A-Men, in which all the Little Sisters of Hoboken are played – in full black-and-white Catholic regalia – by men.

Click on the arrow above to watch the full interview.

The show’s humor is intensified, explained director/choreographer Alison Burns-Jackson, because the actors are not doing over-the-top “drag” nuns. They are more or less playing it straight.

“One of the first things I said to them, on one of our first days of rehearsals, is when you put on this nun habit, you’re completely covering your real identity,” said Burns-Jackson. “So, really, gender flies out the window.

“You can’t tell, when you look at the people onstage, if they’re men or women. Because they’re in these long black outfits, only this part of their face is showing, and it takes gender out of the picture. Of course a lot of the jokes land differently because you have these men onstage talking about, sometimes, pretty feminine things. But it really works. And it has so much heart to it.”

McGee, who among his many talents is a popular bay area drag performer, has been in other productions of Nunsense: A-Men. Every version, he explained, is different – the cast, the director, the venue – and it’s always fun to do.

“Alison approached this show with a fresh eye, in directing and choreography. It’s a great thing to be a part of. Nunsense always looks like Nunsense, right? It’s the five nuns and they’re all in the same outfit.

“But they’re going to see a different version of this show. What we did with the choreography and stuff, I would say it’s very original … our show is different, in many ways, and very special.”

The plot of Nunsense A-Men follows very closely the original Nunsense. Explains McGee: “Fifty-two of the sisters were poisoned by the cook – Sister Julia, Child of God. Reverend Mother buried 49 of them, and then used what was left of the money to buy a plasma TV.

“But that means there’s four nuns left to bury, and they’ve put them in the freezer. They basically have to defrost those four Blue Nuns.”

Reverend Mother and the Little Sisters then put on a variety show to raise the necessary funds.

And how many puns are left unspoken?

Nun.

Nunsense A-Men opens Wednesday, July 13 and runs through Aug. 7 at the Jaeb Theatre, in the David A. Straz Center, Tampa. Tickets and info are here.

 

 

 

 

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