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Lethbridge Music Theatre raising funds with Nunsense

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Lethbridge Musical Theatre is having some fun with nuns May 5-7 and 12-14 in the Sterndale-Bennett Theatre and in the process is hoping to raise enough money to mount a full scale production in November with a special fundraising presentation of Dan Goggins’s 1985 musical comedy Nunsense.

onique Prusky sings “Holier Than Thou,” during rehearsals for Nunsense. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a lighthearted comedy and also a musical. So it is a lot of fun,” enthused director Ed Bayly, who said Lethbridge Musical Theatre produced this  production several years ago.

“It’s in the Sterndale Bennett, so it’s ideal for this  type of performance. There are five people and a pianist on stage,” he said.

The cast features five talented local ladies playing a handful of poverty stricken nuns who, after an unfortunate cooking accident which claims the lives of most of their sisters, must hold a fundraising concert to bury the rest of the victims of “Sister Julia Childs’ soup.”

“It really is lighthearted. It’s a gentle poke at Catholicism and shows that nuns can have fun too,” Bayly said.

“The plot is Sister Julia Childs made some soup which in turn killed 54 of the nuns, leaving 19 still alive. But they are only able to bury five of them because Mother Superior wanted a new TV set, so they had to put them in the deep freezer until they can raise enough money to bury them,” Bayly explained.

“So the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream hasn’t tasted the same since,” he chuckled.
The cast includes several familiar faces  from Lethbridge’s theatre community.
University of Lethbridge graduate Monique Prusky as Sister Mary Hubert. Prusky won the best actress award for her performance during this year’s Chinook One Act Play Festival, April 9 and 10, has most recently performed in many Playgoers of Lethbridge shows including “Boeing Boeing” and “Don’t Dress For Dinner, which she also directed.
“She (Sister Mary) is the mistress of the novices,” said Prusky, who wasn’t really familiar with Catholicism before getting involved with the production
“Novices are the nuns in training. So basically she is their guide and teacher. She’s second in command to Mother Superior. So she has that competitive edge. She’d be in charge if Mother Superior kicks the bucket. But she really is  a jolly soul,”  Prusky explained.
She is excited to be involved in her first Lethbridge Musical Theatre production.

“My first one was the Friends of LMT concert. I’m always looking for musical experience, which is hard to find in Lethbridge. This is my second musical, ” said Prusky who was part of  Hatrix Theatre’s production of Avenue Q last May.
 She is enjoying being part of Nunsense.
 “I am enjoying singing ‘Holier than Thou.’ It’s a real crowd pleasing number at the end of the show. And there’s a lot of jokes we didn’t get right away and are getting them now, so it really is clever,” she continued.

Prusky recently won the best actress award for her role in the original script “The Last Thing I Did” during  the One Act Play festival at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, April 8 and 9. The play also won the best play award.
 “So we get to represent the Chinook Region at the provincial  (One Act Play Competition)  in Fort McMurray. I wasn’t expecting to win, though there weren’t a lot of other actresses. I’ve never done a provincial competition,” she said.

Monica Baczuk, who plays Mother Superior, is a familiar face with Lethbridge Musical Theatre, as she most recently played the mother in Peter Pan. The cast also includes Eva Stanley as Sister Amnesia who has performed everywhere from from Moose Jaw to New Zealand and Andrea Tweedt as sister Robert Anne who last performed with Lethbridge Musical Theatre as the mistress in Oliver!
They are accompanied by pianist Jillian Bracken and Sandy Brunelle is handling vocal choreography.

Chris Peterson, who plays Sister Leo, is doing double duty as Nunsense’s choreographer. Peterson made her Lethbridge Musical Theatre debut as the lead in Guys and Dolls.
“It’s my second LMT show.  It’s fun to work with Ed (Bayly)  again because we were robbed of him last time because of his health,” Peterson said.

“Sister Leo was once a ballerina. She loves being in the spotlight,” Peterson said.
“I also love being in the spotlight, so it’s fun to put that out there,” she said.

“She’s a new nun, so she’s still figuring out the ins and outs of living in a convent,” Peterson described.
“She is a dancer and her goal is  to be the first nun ballerina. So it’s been a lot of fun,” Peterson enthused.

“It’s all women in the cast and you never know what you’ll get when it’s all women, but it’s been really fun,” she said.
 She noted handling  the show’s choreography  has been a challenge.
“There are a lot of songs, so it is a big job and I am doing he choreography and the blocking. Luckily the nuns don’t dance a lot. It’s hard to dance in habits. Most of the dancingSister Robert Anne (Andrea Tweedt);  Sister Mary Amnesia ( Eva Stanley) and Sister Mary Leo ( Chris Peterson) rehearse Holier Than Thou. Photo By Richard Amery that gets done  is me doing a ballet solo,” she said adding it has allowed her to tap into her own dance background.

“I’ve been dancing  for about 10 years- all through university with a minor focusing on ballet. So it’s been fun to go back to my ballet roots,” she said.

“Hopefully there isn’t a ballet critic in the audience,” she quipped.
The actresses are excited about Nunsense.

“All community theatre is suffering from lack of attendance, so we need people to come out and support it. There is so much talent here,” Prusky said.
“I feel this scaled down LMT production will help raise  money for a full blown LMT show,” she continued.
“This was an opportunity to do another fundraiser to help LMT get back onto its feet again and back to what I heard it once was,” Peterson said.

“ It’s very funny. You’ll laugh a lot. And it’s easy to enjoy  even if for those who aren’t theatre buffs,” Peterson promised.
Tickets  for Nunsense are $25 at Yates Ticket Centre (403)-329-7328. The show begins  at 8 p.m each night, May 5-7 and May 12-14.

A version of this story appears in the April 20, 2016 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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