Arts and Entertainment

Review: Laughs are habit-forming at Drama Dock’s ‘Nuncrackers’

The cast of “Nuncrackers” poses for a silly living creche during one of the scenes in the show. - Courtesy Photo
The cast of “Nuncrackers” poses for a silly living creche during one of the scenes in the show.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Drama Dock’s latest show, “Nuncrackers,” offers a rousing celebration of the Christmas giving spirit — a perfect antidote to the dark winter days of the season.

The show, part of the popular “Nunsense” franchise by Dan Goggin that includes several plays and musical revues, tells the story of a convent full of sisters broadcasting their first cable-access Christmas special from a sparse church basement. But in this production, the sisters have been relocated to Vashon, the TV channel is our own Voice of Vashon, and local references abound.

This show within a show includes 11 Sister Marys, four gifted kids, one solitary man and a partridge in a …. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Featuring Sue DeNies as the commanding and mercurial Mother Superior Mary Regina and Kirk Beeler as the unpredictable Father Virgil, “Nuncrackers” endeavors to have something for everyone.

Are you a fan of country music? Then you’ll like Sister Mary Billie Joe’s (Vasa Seymour) southern charm and rendition of “Santa Ain’t Comin’ To Our House.”

If you reminisce about the good old days, you’ll enjoy the Andrews Sisters-inspired “The Three Kings,” featuring Gretchen Neffenger, Zoey Rice and Dianna Ammon.

Twisted holiday carols, a truncated version of The Nutcracker Ballet, gospel music, tunes inspired by the Village People and a tacky nativity scene all meld together to make “Nuncrackers” complete.

It is served up with heavy doses of silliness, puns, running jokes, double entendres, sight gags and plenty of comedic bits.

The numbers that include most of the cast are some of the most enjoyable and offer sing-along opportunities for the audience to join in the holiday spirit. The PG-rated “Secret Santa” and “Catholic Home Shopping Service” sketches are also entertaining diversions that drew the audience into the action.

“Nuncrackers” has four young stage veterans playing the “most talented children from Mt. St. Helens School” — John (Max Lopuszinski), Louise (Charlotte Schoen), Maria (Ellie Hughes) and Billy (Isaac Hughes). Their characters alternate from being charmers to rascals in roles ranging from teapots, carolers and the main characters in The Nutcracker. Lopuszinski shows great comedic timing as a blasé teen too cool for this show.

Sisters and accomplished dancers in real life, Charlotte and Lizzy Schoen are featured as angelic ballerinas, and belters Maya Krah, Earthsong and Zoey Rice have solos that show off their impressive pipes.

Rounding out the talented cast is J.R. Crawford as the industrious Mary Johnelle Scott, Lissy Nichols as the naughty Mary Dorcas and Jill Bulow as the accident-prone Mary Leo.

At “Nuncrackers” heart is the lone adult male, Father Virgil (Beeler). Beeler fluctuates between holiday peace and pathos in his characterization of the seemingly serene Father.

In the song “Christmas Box,” his soothing voice while serenading young Maria (the expressive Ellie Hughes) brings a kindhearted tenderness to the proceedings. His take on Julia Child and fruitcake recipes is reminiscent of the famous “I Love Lucy” Vitameatavegamin episode and is one of the show’s comedic high points.

The plot line is a little thin, and some of the bits are very silly, but at its core “Nuncrackers” is an amusing romp and a great way to wrap up the holiday season.

Kudos to the creative team behind the show — director Chris Ott, vocal director Elizabeth Ripley, designer Lillian Ripley and music director Christopher Overstreet.

— Shannon Flora is a local singer, actress and writer who is involved in several communty organizations.

Upcoming performances of “Nuncrackers” will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 22 and 23, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26, at Blue Heron Arts Center. Tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors, are on sale at Island book stores, Heron’s Nest, the Blue Heron and www.brownpapertickets.com.

 

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