Discovering that putting on the musical Little Shop of Horrors would have been a horror for their budget, Tampa Bay, FL's American Stage has cancelled autumn plans for that show and has, instead, replaced it with Nunsense A-Men!, the all-male version of Dan Goggins' comedy, currently having its premiere at Off-Broadway's 47th Street Theatre.
American Stage artistic director Kenneth Mitchell defended the switch by saying Little Shop and Nunsense A-Men! were comparably campy. Also, "Nunsense A-Men is better suited for our intimate performance space and reflects the more responsible spending needed during the current budget crisis."
That crisis led producing artistic director Jody Kielbasa to resign on June 23. According to board president Susan Hough, American Stage faces a $200,000 deficit by end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30). Helping ease the burden is a $100,000 challenge grant, sponsored by friends of the theatre.
Founded in 1977, American Stage is currently run by artistic director Mitchell and managing director Lee Lowry. The theatre encompasses a 140-seat mainstage, plus Shakespeare in the park and a SchoolTour program.
As for Nunsense A-Men!, the story hasn't changed -- it's still about the Little Sisters of Hoboken forced to put on a talent show because a food poisoning incident has significantly thinned their numbers. But there's no Dody Goodman or Rue McClanahan in this mounting, which opens the American Stage season Oct. 16-Nov. 15. *
The long-running (all-female) Off-Broadway hit Nunsense and its sequel, Nunsense 2, are available on video under the Acorn Media label. McClanahan stars in the two-tape, one-package release, which is commercially available in major video stores. For information on where to purchase Nun 1&2 call (888) 606-3342.
The Off-Broadway original (3,672 performances) closed in 1994 and, until the all-male Portuguese version last year, hadn't been seen in New York since its brief, holiday-time revival in 1995.
For information on shows at American Stage call (727) 822-8814.
-- By David Lefkowitz