Known throughout the North Hudson and South Bergen for both their stage and dinner theatre productions, the Park Players have decided to showcase the fourth installment of the "Nunsense" series created by Dan Goggin.
"We saw the show last year in New Hope, Connecticut, and we thought it was very funny and a good show for this time of the year," said John Fiorenza, director and actor.
Goggin, who also wrote the music and lyrics, first brought this satirical look at an order of Catholic nuns about 20 years ago. The "Nunsense" series pokes fun at nuns, priests, and the Catholic Church, but always in good taste with subtle and sometimes exaggerated humor.
"It's just a jolly old time," said Fiorenza, who also plays Louise Mayfield in the show. "It's very funny, extremely funny. Even if you're not Catholic you'll enjoy it anyway. If you're Jewish you'll enjoy it even more." "It's a bunch of nuns singing and dancing," said Danielle Romano, who plays Sister Robert Anne. "What could be funnier? Even if you're not Catholic there is always some sort of relation to the audience."
The show will be performed at La Fortuna Restaurant in Fairview.
Lots of Nunsense
The "Nunsense" series follows an order of nuns known as the Little Sisters of Hoboken through all sorts of shenanigans as they try to raise money for various causes. In the production of "Nuncrackers," the sisters are putting on a Christmas benefit show in which they have invited their students to participate, and they're being filmed live on public access television.
"I just enjoy it," said Fiorenza. "This is my fourth show as director. I volunteered to do it because I had already directed the other Nunsense, 'Amen.' I wanted to do it."
"I am really honored to be working with John. He puts a lot of insight into this," said Joseph D. Conklin, who plays Rev. Mother Sr. Mary Regina. "There's a great camaraderie. He takes ideas from his actors and gives a lot of comedic insight. I feel fulfilled and successful as an actor can be concerned."
In the show, the nuns want to put on the Nutcracker. But one of the sisters is imprisoned and another injured after a Tanya Harding-type incident, leaving the Rev. Mother Sr. Mary Regina (Joseph D. Conklin) and Father Virgil Manly Trott (Len Free) to fill the missing spots of a Sugar Plum Fairy and a very interesting cooking segment with rum and a fruitcake.
The nuns also put on their own rendition of the Village People's "In the Navy" called "In the Convent," and include a special Secret Santa portion that involves the audience.
Meet the cast "I'm the mother superior in the play," said Conklin. "She is the leader. She enjoys being the leader and the mother character to everyone in the show."
According to Conklin, Sr. Mary Regina had a circus background in her family, and as a result always felt the need to entertain. So, through the character's show on WCON TV Catholic Home Shopping Network, Mary Regina plans to raise funds in order to aid the community and the kids in their school.
"Mother just loves to spread the love and make everyone happy," said Conklin. "Having gone through Holy Family High School, I have had a great motivation from the sisters there, and pulled qualities from them respectfully."
Playing opposite of Sr. Mary Regina is Len Free as Father Virgil.
"He is kind of like Reverend Mother, and when the two of them get together, things get kind of silly," said Free. "They have this rapport about them that when something is usually funny. It becomes hilarious when they get together."
Free, who has been working with the Park Players for the last three years, had actually taken some time off while the group was putting on the summer production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" last season.
"I just needed to sit back and recharge my batteries a little bit because I had been in every production up until Charlie Brown, and I needed a break," said Free. "Now I'm totally energized and ready to go."
The new guy Among the other infamous characters in the play, which includes a cast of 11, are Sr. Mary Hubert played by Evelyn Rue; Sr. Robert Ann played by Danielle Romano, and Sr. Mary Paul, a.k.a Sr. Amnesia, played by newcomer to the Park Players Mark Peterson.
"[Sr. Amnesia] comes to the Little Sisters of Hoboken with a memory problem after a crucifix fell on her head," Peterson said. "She tries to teach the children music in the play, but gives them all the wrong words."
Peterson added, "It's my first lead, I've always had ensemble parts, so this is exciting. Besides, John is an excellent director." Peterson has been in involved with community theatre in his home town of Clifton since 2000.
Director/actor Fiorenza explained his own character: "I'm playing Catholic school girl Louise Mayfield," he said. "She's a little bit of a backwards kid, a little shy, boisterous, loud, and needs to be the center of attention."
Fiorenza, who has also acted and directed simultaneously in previous productions, always takes on smaller roles during those times so he can concentrate on directing.
"John is fantastic. He allows you a freedom to develop your character," said Free.
A good time to laugh
With all the current events and stress of life, the Park Players want to remind people to get into the holiday spirit, and take them away from their world for a while.
"With all the things going on in the world, it's good for people to sit back and laugh," said Conklin.
"Nunsense 'Amen' was funny, but I think the people are really going to enjoy 'Nuncrackers'," said Free. "There are things that you are going to see in this play that are absolutely hilarious. It's kind of the Marx Brothers meets the Golden Girls."
The production of "Nuncrackers" at La Fortuna, 430 Kamena St., Fairview, will be held on Nov. 17 through 21 at different times. On Nov. 17 and 21, the dinner starts at 1:45 p.m. and the show is at 3:15. On Nov. 18, 19 and 20, dinner is at 6:30 and the show it as 8 p.m.
The dinner/show is $45 for adults, $43 for students/seniors, and $40 for groups of 15 or more. There will be a brief intermission during the show. For tickets or more information call (201) 941-6030 or (201) 941 2770. For group sales call (201) 486-0168.