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Classy cabaret-style musical showcases talented cast in hall's first show

By Margaret Chrystall

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Almack Productions: Nunsensations

North Kessock Village Hall

4 stars

It felt like something a little bit special to be part of the audience at the North Kessock Village Hall making its debut in recent times as a theatre venue last week.

The cast of Nunsensations. Picture: Matthias Kremer
The cast of Nunsensations. Picture: Matthias Kremer

And it would be the star of any show – great-sized space, room for a five-strong live band, dimensions for a decent-sized audience – if the actual stars of Nunsensations hadn’t been such outstanding talents!

As a curtain-raiser on a new life for the hall as a venue space, the experience couldn’t have gone better.

Nunsensations is a great show from American musical creator Dan Goggins that is pure escapism an audience can just relax into.

And the creative team behind the performance – director and choreographer Claire Fisher, musical director Fiona Stuart and director Alan Mackintosh – leaned into that to create a classy cabaret-style feel totally in keeping with the revue format of the show with songs and jokes taking turns to entertain their crowd.

The story is that the five nuns (met in the original production in the series, Nunsense) , of Hoboken are Vegas-bound, challenged to stage a show there with a parishioner offering a $10,000 donation to go into the convent’s coffers if they complete their mission. Rev Mother (Caroline MacPherson) is not keen until the other four nuns promise her that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”.

And it’s the start of a fun night with each nun getting her chance to shine and show off her talents.

North Kessock Village Hall where Nunsensations was staged. The hall committee hopes to attract more stage productions. Picture: Callum Mackay.
North Kessock Village Hall where Nunsensations was staged. The hall committee hopes to attract more stage productions. Picture: Callum Mackay.

It turns out Reverend Mother has secrets in her past, sharing the slightly shocking news that she once starred in a burlesque show – Caroline MacPherson making the most of this. Sister Amnesia’s ventriloquism skills aren’t quite as strong as the personality of her feisty puppet Mary Annette, but it’s the nun’s unswerving commitment to solving the disappearance of her puppet that powers the plot. When she believes the puppet may have been kidnapped, she gets gambling to raise a ransom, all good till a disapproving Rev Mother comes across the money …

Along the way Rev Mother and sister Hubert give a quick musical history of the show girl and the story of Sin City Sue, the dance dreams of Sister Mary Leo (Alison Ozog), the group’s own mini game show and the touching shared sad romantic history of Sister Mary Leo and sister Robert Anne (Sian Noble).

Rehearsing the fan dance for Nunsensations. Picture: Matthias Kremer
Rehearsing the fan dance for Nunsensations. Picture: Matthias Kremer

Highlights of the night included Act One’s perfectly-performed pink ostrich fan dance, before a can-can that reveals the colourful skirts – and dance talents – these nuns have been hiding under their habits. Another great moment was the interplay of the voices of Rev Mother and Sister Hubert (Zoe McIntyre) in Double Or Nothing.

Just one niggle. Most of the time, the acoustics were perfect – but occasionally the words onstage were hard to catch, one moment coming in a section near the end where the otherwise perfect balance between music and performers meant – where I was sitting – it got hard to hear the words against the music in Why Sing A Ballad?

On the other hand, for the rest of the night, it had been a luxury with the band set in front of the stage, to watch the musicians perform – particularly all the drums and percussion from Clair Munro, from xylophone and wood block to swanee whistle!

But a sound that caught some of the audience by surprise were the streamer poppers going off behind them – leaving some jumping out of their skins as the silver streamers fell! It was just one of many extra touches from the team to ensure that this North Kessock Village Hall show from Almack Productions … went with a bang!

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