Ah, it just wouldn't be autumn without Nunsense, would it? But that Off-Broadway perennial (3,672 performances) closed in 1994 and hasn't been seen in New York since its brief, holiday-time revival in 1995.
That will change this year, however, when Nunsense again comes to Off-Broadway, Nov. 25-Dec. 7, at the Theatre at St. Clement's Church on West 46th St. The twist? This production of Dan Goggin's spoofy look at nuns putting on a talent show comes straight from Rio de Janeiro, where it's been playing for three years. The production will be performed in Portuguese. Also -- all the cast members are male.
As reported by Playbill On-Line's Brazil correspondent, Nertutila Achao, author Goggin caught the production in Sao Paolo in 1996 and began negotations to bring Northwest Brazil's Baiana de Partifaria Company to New York. Currently, they're at Rio's Quatro Theatre.
Beth Rangel choreographs; Wolf Maya, who staged the show in Rio in 1987, again directs. Sergio Souto serves as musical director. Appearing in the show are Lelo Filho, Wilson de Santos, Fernando Marinho, Beto Mettig and Diogo Lopes Filho. Filho, Ana Paolilo and Sean O'Flynn are producing.
Author Goggin told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 28), "Two years ago, they asked for permission to do the first all-male Nunsense. We decided to let them take a crack at it. I went down to see it, and it was hilarious. It's done in Portuguese, so I knew only vaguely what they were saying. But their body language and facial expressions were terrific. "I knew there was a substantial Brazilian population in New York -- 100,000 to 125,000. They just thought that was the greatest idea ever, and we decided to look into bringing them here. We figured since the center of Brazilian activity seems to be 46th Street! They moved the show to Rio, and it's a huge hit there now. I have a feeling they may go back there, `cause it's totally sold out. I've also heard -- second hand -- that Dom DeLuise has said he was interested, as was Rip Taylor. And someone told me Charles Nelson Reilly would pay to be Mother Superior! But the great thing about the way the Brazilian company does it is it's not a drag or camp show. It's closer to, say, Greater Tuna."
Asked about his next show, the third in the Nunsense series, Goggin said, "We just started the Nunsense Jamboree, which is going on tour with Georgia Engel [of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"] as Sr. Mary Amnesia. The tour will begin in Topeka, KS, Oct. 1, and tour the U.S. through March 1. (The original production starred Vicki Lawrence last summer.) Plus, we've just been told the "Clairol On Broadway" TV series will sponsor a special on the Jamboree next year -- I'm terribly blessed!"
Goggin added, "A sit-down company of Jamboree is already playing in Orlando, FL with Jeannie Tinker. She's one of our best, prize Amnesias. Also, another company is running at Circa 21 in the Quad cities [in the central states]."
Are there plans to bring Jamboree to NYC? "We're debating New York when the tour finishes in March," said Goggin. "Maybe spring 1998. My business manager says, `We don't really need to do New York do we?' But all the creative people on the old Nunsense are still with us! It was our home for ten years, so I'm partial.."
Asked if he had any other projects on the burner, Goggin said, "Whenever I finish a Nunsense I say, `this is it, I have no more jokes.' But so many theatres are telling me, `if only you would write a Christmas Nunsense show, we'll all take it. So it looks like Christmas 1998, we'll try out the first Nunsense Christmas. "Sister Leo is finally going to able to wear a tutu," Goggin said, "so she can dance in `The Nutcracker.' But one of the little children will smack her with the baton, so she'll be out of the running. The first act finale will have the Rev. Mother appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She'll be on a safety wire so the audience will think she's dancing on point. As I guess you can imagine, whoever's working the wire will let things get out of hand."
Goggin even has the Christmas Nunsense finale planned out: "I never do a show without a closing gospel number. This one will be "It's Better To Give Than To Receive," so we can end with a positive holiday message."
--By David Lefkowitz