MAGNA — Driving through downtown Magna I had three thoughts: (1) there so many churches; (2) I guess Magna’s not as far away as I thought; (3) there’s a theatre out here? It seems fitting that my introduction to the arts in this steeple-spotted township located just 30-minutes west of I-15 would be the Empress Theatre’s production of Nunsense.
Nunsense is a title that gets played very often across the Wasatch Front. Despite that fact, this was my first time with the show. I was pleasantly surprised. The premise for the evening is theatergoers are present for a benefit showcase put on by the Little Sisters of Hoboken in order to raise enough money to bury the frozen nuns they’ve got stashed in the freezer. The reason the frosty nuns haven’t been properly interred is mostly acceptable, no worries there. What’s important is 5 of the sisters are putting on a show and we get to see it.
The habit is led by Sister Mary Regina (played by the very amiable Sonia Maughan) whose solo, “Turn Up The Spotlight”, showcased a growl that turns up the heat in the modest Empress. Acting is fair, but honest and I couldn’t help watching the more senior audience members crack up during Maughan’s momentary drug-induced trip (this high was the only moment I felt a little wary about bringing small kids—though yes, it’s funny).
Second in command is Sister Mary Hubert (played by Jann LeVitre). My goodness how this gal could smile while executing the athletic choreography laced throughout the performance. Her final solo, “Holier Than Thou”, was her strongest vocals of the night—quite a few audience members were literally pulled to their feet to clap along.
Sister Mary Amnesia (Aubrey Vance) provided the most believable acting performance. Her comedic innocence was spot on and the nearly off-color duet between with her ventriloquist dummy showcased good versatility in the vocals.
Sister Mary Leo (Ashley Henderson) was fully committed to her character whether dancing the ballet of the poisoned swan or tackling temptation through her time step. She quickly built up a relationship with the audience prior to the show and it carried throughout the night.
Finally, Sister Mary Robert Anne (Erika Leashia Nelson) provided the most solid vocals of the night in her solo “I Just Want to Be a Star.” She did a great job connecting with the audience as well with her individual sense of humor.
I was pleasantly surprised by this production. More than anything, I was hit with a real sense of community at The Empress. Yes, I had difficulty hearing actors at times; yes, the restroom was a little claustrophobic; yes, the seats are a little closer together than I would like. But really, it was a fun night at the theatre and I’d be happy taking my family to a show in the future. I think that little theatre has a lot of strength and I’m excited to see what energy it can bring to Magna in the coming years.