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THESE SISTERS MAKE LAUGHTER HABIT-FORMING

Over the years, the Little Sisters of Hoboken have made regular appearances in area community and professional theaters, to the delight of many theater patrons.

The Little Sisters are the characters in playwright-composer Dan Goggin's series of Nunsense musicals - Nuncrackers, Nunsense Jamboree and The Second Coming, to name a few.

The original and, arguably, best of the series, plain ol' Nunsense, returns to Spring Hill on Thursday in Xavier Hall at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church for seven performances. Its first local go-round was in 1994 at Stage West Community Playhouse, where it won six HAMI Awards, including "Favorite Show of the Season."

In Nunsense, the Little Sisters have a problem. The convent cook, Sister Julia, Child of God (a play on the name of the late kitchen maven Julia Child), has accidentally poisoned 52 of the sisters with her bad vichyssoise, a creamy potato soup flavored with onions and leeks. The remaining seven sisters, who were spared because they were out playing cards with the Maryknolls from across town, have scraped together enough money to bury 48 of their sisters in God.

They haven't been able to bury the remaining four because the Mother Superior used the burial money to buy a VCR and a camcorder.

So the sisters are going to put on a variety show to raise money for the funerals. As they rehearse their show, they pour out their hopes and dreams, their jealousies and ambitions, and their regrets and disappointments.

It's funny and touching at the same time.

There's the young novitiate, Sister Leo (Victoria Primosch, Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical), who wants to use her dance skills in praise of the Lord. And Sister Robert Ann (Leanne Germann, Stepmother in Cinderella, Queen Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream), the neighborhood tomboy-turned-nun.

Sister Hubert (Susan Schildbach, Lillie in Kiss Me, Kate) is in charge of the convent newcomers but thinks she should be in charge of everything. Sister Amnesia (Angelena Burrow in her first major role) has been hit on the head by a wayward crucifix and doesn't know who or what she is.

The linchpin of the convent is the stern but understanding Mother Superior (Betsy Glasson, Mother Superior in Nunsensations, Chris in Rumors), who rides herd on her rambunctious charges.

"Just as the Little Sisters of Hoboken were putting on a show to raise funds, this cast is also performing for a cause," Glasson said. "All proceeds will go to St. Francis Cabrini's music ministry."

IF YOU GO

Nunsense, a musical comedy

Where: Xavier Hall of St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, 5030 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill.

When: Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday and Aug. 3 and Aug. 10; 1 p.m. Aug. 4 and Aug. 11; and 2 p.m. Aug. 5 and Aug. 12.

Tickets: $10, open seating. Call (352) 683-9666 or 683-6241 for ticket information.

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