ACT rings in new season with musical comedy “Nunsense”

Wade McIntyre
“Nunsense” musical comedy cast members put final touches on a rehearsal scene Tuesday in which they imitate the Andrews Sisters. From left are Jackie Dixon Tuttle, Emily Rose Gyan, and Jenny Heroman. The show opened Thursday night at the Pasqua Theater in Gonzales.

Those searching for a little non-sensensical humor spiced with multiple styles of dancing and singing will find just the ticket at the season opening Ascension Community Theater production, “Nunsense”.

The musical comedy’s run kicked off Thursday night, and runs Feb. 25-27 and March 3-5 at the Pasqua Theater in Gonzales.

As the show opens, the sisters at the Hoboken convent are beset with financial difficulties stemming from the inadvertent poisoning of 52 of their fellow sisters.

In order to raise interment funds for the deceased, the five remaining sisters decide to put on a variety show - resulting in a slap-happy, heart tugging stage frolic.

The ACT version of the play by Dan Goggin is directed by first time ACT director Cody Ikerd.

Ikerd, who became known during the weeks of rehearsals for sometimes joining the cast on stage for a dance and song, said he was most surprised in his directorial debut by just “how easy it was for the cast to get along so brilliantly.”

He characterized the show as complex, requiring comedic timing, plus singing and dancing in gospel, ballet, tap, and country genres.

Actress Jenny Heroman is one of four cast members from Gonzales. While she is well know for her broadcast work with EATEL, Heroman is taking to the ACT stage as for the first time as Sister Robert Anne.

“I cross my fingers during auditions,” she said with a laugh.

She never told her co-workers of her affinity for the theater, Heroman said, and now is battling a mild case of butterflies over how they will react to her performance.

Like Heroman, cast members Jackie Dixon Tuttle, Emily Rose Gyan and Gaye Lynn Ambeau are all from Gonzales. Cast member Jamie Leonard comes from Baton Rouge.

Gyan plays the youngest nun, who not so secretly wants to be a ballerina. “She is shy and yet wants the spotlight, so I try to find that balance in my role.”

Assistant Director Michael Mason was brought to the show in part due to the success last year when ACT decided to open the season with another musical comedy, “Little Shop of Horrors” for the first time.

“We have five very talented ladies who can dance and sing,” he said.

The trick is for the cast to be able to manage the comedic timing and dancing timing required in the show.

He joked that because there are five nuns in the cast and two male directors, the boys sometimes get outnumbered.

The Baton Rouge Little Theater loaned ACT the nun’s habits and Center Stage for the Performing Arts loaned elements of the set.

Choreographer Haylie Westphal also worked on the “Little Shop of Horrors” production, and she dances with the Baton Rouge Ballet Theater.

“All of these women are amazing dancers,” she said of the cast. “ All of them are tap dancers. We taught them the tap dance in an hour.”

The small “Nunsense” cast is a first for Westphal, who is accustomed to larger musicals. “With such a small cast, its amazing the chemistry that develops.”

Other key members of the production are Music Director Susan Leming, Choreographer Sonya Blanchard, and Stage Manager Renee Mire Michel,

“Nunsense” evening performances begin at 7 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

For ticket information, call the ticket office at 225-647-1230.