When a quintet of nuns enters the theater to the strains of "Hava Nagila" and begins to shoot baskets, it can mean only one thing: The Little Sisters of Hoboken are at it again.
Yes, it's time for the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's production of "Nunsense." The hilarious, affectionate spoof of convent life will grace the stage at the outdoor playhouse opposite the City Dock Thursday through Sunday evenings until July 8.
For the ecclesiastically deprived who don't know the show, it seems the Little Sisters of Hoboken must throw a benefit performance to raise funds to inter four deceased nuns stored in the convent freezer awaiting burial.
A tainted soup whipped up by Sister Julia, "Child of God," bumped them off, so the surviving sisters must mug shamelessly for laughs and applause to raise the requisite funds.
That's why the Summer Garden stage has become a blur of black and white as Mother Superior Mary Regina, Sister Mary Hubert, Sister Robert Anne, Sister Leo and Sister Mary Amnesia pepper their audience with stand-up comedy, fancy hoofing and such "Nunsense" song classics as "Just a Coupla' Sisters" and "Tackle That Temptation With a Time Step."
Let's hope the collection plate overflowed last Friday night, because the entire cast was hilarious.
Nicole Roblyer is wonderful as Mary Amnesia, the doe-eyed nun who loses her memory and a few of her marbles when bonked on the head by a falling crucifix. Ms. Roblyer is talented enough to move deftly from show-biz to the classics, which is a good thing. In her show-stopping "So You Want to Be a Nun," she must segue into Mozart's "Magic Flute" and Gershwin's "Summertime" without batting an eye.
I also got a real kick out of Carole Gilmour as Sister Robert Anne, the Brooklyn toughie who wants so desperately to be a hit. Whether displaying a flair for syllabic patter in "Playing Second Fiddle" or hijacking Act II with "I Just Want To Be a Star," Gilmour's Summer Garden debut is a howling success.
She also does very nicely with the show's one serious moment, "Growing Up Catholic," a touching reflection on all those certainties that no longer seem so certain in the post-Vatican II world.
Young Laurie Frank, who cut her teeth on this stage, is a child no longer as she sings and dances glamorously as Mary Leo, the would-be ballerina.
Diana Wolf, always a delight in snooty roles, gets to take many cute potshots at her Mother Superior, played with regal silliness by Julia Pruchniewski.
It's early in the run, but the show already is in good technical shape.