‘Nunsense’ of a different kind in gender-swapped ‘A-Men’

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First Posted: 6/9/2014

So a couple of nuns walk into Dunkin Donuts…

Nope, it’s not the start of a bad joke, but rather something locals may have witnessed last week when cast members of a local theater production ventured out for coffee after performing at a cancer benefit at the River Street Jazz Cafe.

And if those people looked closer, they would have noticed that there was even more than meets the eye – as these nuns were men.

“They are very good sports,” Jessica Werbin said with a laugh about the cast she’s directing for Music Box Theater’s production of “Nunsense A-Men,” which opens this weekend.

“Nunsense” is a musical comedy that dates back to 1985 and has been adapted for TV, with recently deceased “Golden Girls” actress Rue McClanahan starring. 52 nuns at the Little Sisters of Hoboken Convent in New Jersey have died, victims of soup poisoning by fellow nun and chef Julia, Child of God. Due to monetary restrictions, only 48 of the 52 can be buried, so five of the surviving sisters band together to raise money in order to bury the remaining dead by putting on a variety show.

It’s certainly silly stuff, with scenes that involve foul-mouthed puppets, a nun getting high and, Werbin’s favorite, the group reading from a cookbook they’re trying to sell and realizing that maybe it’s not the cleanest or most accurate of things.

Music Box, however, is taking the hilarity even further by going the way of a popular “Nunsense” spinoff and having men portray the ladies of the habit. Such a show was first brought stateside in 1998.

“It adds a whole new twist,” Werbin said. “But whether it’s men playing the roles or women playing the roles, it’s absolutely hysterical.”

For this production, Jack Moran, Karl Kleist, Michael Radzwilla, Daniel Pascoe, and Jimmy Williams will play the five leading ladies.

“I took some liberties by allowing them to do some ad-libbing, their own take on things,” Werbin said of her directing style. “We’ve added some local color as well. There’s a song called ‘The Drive-In,’ and they actually reference the Garden Drive-In (in Hunlock Creek).”