Monday, December 04, 2006

Nunsense Review


Book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggin
Produced by Rollin E. Wehman
Direction and Musical Staging by Vilma Gil
Sister Mary Regina, Mother Superior – Kathy Robinson
Sister Mary Hubert, Mistress of Novices – Desiree Roots
Sister Robert Anne – Rachel Abrams
Sister Mary Amnesia – Heather McIntosh
Sister Mary Leo – Santina Umbach

Yesterday was a continuation of a long love affair with the local dinner theater, The Riverside. Yvonne and I have been season ticket holders for five years now (soon to be six) and have enjoyed many meals and musicals together. With rare exception, the atmosphere is always pleasant, the food is always good, and the entertainment is, well, entertaining.

Things were different yesterday. Quite different. I’ll begin my story with our arrival.

Pulling into a Sunday matinee is generally easy. Much to our surprise, there were already two or three busses disembarking their loads. Parking was easy as usual, seeing as how few people show up before 1:30 pm. We enter the doors, trade our season tickets for seating tickets, and make our way to the main doors of the theater. Our gracious host takes us to the, as she called it and we already knew it, “best seat in the house.” Tier A, Table 5. Smack in the middle of the first tier, which means there’s no fear in having an obstructed view.

Our server approached to ask if we had ever been here before “of course,” we answered, “for several years.” She told us where to find the menu and took our drink orders. After a moment of slight disappointment in finding out they switched from Coke to Pepsi, we gave her our order and continued reading the program (and the menu).

Our server returned with our drinks and took our dinner order. Yvonne ordered the Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Breast (with creamy Dijon sauce) and I had the Blue Cheese Crusted New York Strip. I added a cup of the Maine Lobster Bisque and we both had the Chocolate Explosion for dessert. For those unfamiliar with this particular dinner theater, you pick what you want to eat, including dessert, before starting on your salad.

Unless you are hungry like I was and start on your salad while picking from the menu. The salad was a typical house with ranch dressing. Thankfully they didn’t skimp on the dressing they have at times in the past. The bread arrived shortly after (a rye mini-loaf) as did my lobster bisque. I’m not a big rye fan, but the bread was good (and warm). The lobster bisque was also tasty, but a bit pricey for me at $3.95 per cup. While I’m no food snob, the bisque did not have large chunks of lobster, but was well seasoned and obviously lobster.

Our main courses arrived and, much to my surprise, I wasn’t sure if I could finish it. Thankfully I was hungry and I did, but the meat was nearly hanging off my plate. For a moment I was thinking we got special treatment for being regulars, but no, others around me were dining on the same size cut. So moving from the normal 8 ounce cut of beef, this was an easy 10 to 12 ounce cut. It was well cooked (just a little smidge of pink in the middle) and well seasoned (the blue cheese wasn’t over-powering). The mashed red potatoes were the usual as were the seasonal vegetables. Yvonne’s chicken came in just about the same double portion as mine beef, and looked tempting, even for a person allergic to chicken.

Then our dessert arrived. Chocolate Explosion was a bit of an understatement. A simple mini-bundt cake with the middle loaded with chocolate. And hot chocolate at that. The hint of caramel made it even better.

After dessert, we enjoyed the little speech on birthdays, anniversaries, groups that were in the audience, how to tip well, and the upcoming shows for next season. What is in store for us next year? Shenandoah, Chicago, Peter Pan, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Wow, that’s a line up.

After a quick run to the potty before the show started, we sat back and waited for the curtains to come up (figuratively, there were no curtains drawn on the stage). We also ordered our pre-show drinks and intermission drinks (including the “Amnesia” show special for both of us).

Well, this is one show I would not recommend drinking while watching. Not because of the Nuns, but because of the comedy. I have not laughed so hard since watching Home Alone in the movie theater. I alternated between thinking my head would explode and peeing my pants. The comedy was so good, even the cast was laughing.

The Mother Superior (Kathy Robinson) was great at improve and moved quite well on her feet. Seeing her get “happy” on the bottle of Rush was the highlight of the show.

The Mistress of Novices (Desiree Roots) looked an awful lot like Whoppi Goldberg. But she was funnier. Seriously, she was funnier than Whoppi in Sister Act. How’s that for a comparison?

Sister Robert Anne (Rachel Abrams) had a great Brooklyn accent and played the part well. Doing her best to up-stage the Mother Superior, she put on quite a show.

Sister Mary Amnesia (Heather McIntosh) is a Riverside regular and had a stunning performance. At times she stole the show from the others and played her hilarious role with the best dead-pan face I’ve seen in some time.

Sister Mary Leo (Santina Umbach) did great dancing and singing. But she did even better playing opposite Sister Robert Anne in stirring up trouble.

So a big thank you to the cast, crew, and staff at the Riverside. I may not be a bishop, but this show gets my blessing. I will be making my Bye-Bye Birdie reservations soon as well as ordering our next season of tickets to a wonderful show.

PS – For those in the area of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and D.C., you seriously need to make the trip to see this show. Even if you suffer through 2 hours on the Beltway, you’ll see the light from these nuns.


Neil Richard said...

I got this response from the Riverside after I emailed them about the review.

Mr. Richard,

Thank you so much for your wonderful review! I will forward a copy to our General Manager, Mr. Wehman.

It’s a pleasure to serve customers like you!

Bob Deitemeyer

Box Office Manager
Riverside Center Dinner Theater

Anonymous said...

I've seen the show too. It is without doubt the funniest show I've seen at Riverside. The only show that even came close was Guys and Dolls. I can't wait to see it again. I hope they do a good job of advertising this one.