Monday, July 23

Theater Review: Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre: Nunsense

When is a greeting card more than a greeting card? When it spawns a commercially successful international sensation known as Nunsense, one of off-Broadway's most commercially successful shows. Six sequels, three spin offs and a television show followed quickly. Originating from Dan Goggin's line of nun-based humorous cards, the popular Little Sisters of Hoboken convened once again on stage at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis.

The rollicking ladies of the convent are in dire straits for quick cash. Fifty-two nuns have died from botulism caused by the poor culinary skills of an unseen cooking sister (Sister Julia, Child of God). With only 48 buried due to improper money management, the wacky spiritual ladies contrive a revue and cookbook sale to raise the remaining funds needed to bury the dearly departed...before the Board of Health slaps them with a hefty fine for storing the stiff sisters in the walk-in freezer.
Amanda Butterbaugh as Sister Amnesia

A cast of five Sisters: Rev. Mother Superior Mary Regina (Nancy E. Carroll), Hubert (Mary Robin Roth), Amnesia (Amanda Butterbaugh), Robert Ann (Lin Tucci) and Leo (Laurie Walton), revolves constantly on stage and throughout the audience prior to the first and second acts.

In some shows a particular role is created perfectly to easily become the audience favorite. In some, an actor takes a role and makes it that way. Then you have the situations such as Beef and Boards' Nunsense. Sister Amnesia is almost a shoo-in to be an audience favorite and Amanda Butterbaugh takes the opportunity and puts it over the top. The role is noted as her favorite and she has played in off-Broadway productions and in tours. Butterbaugh's comedic timing in her endearing portrayal of the sweet nun with amnesia (received from a crucifix falling on her head) will steal the hearts of absolutely everyone and is worth the ticket price alone.

Nancy E Carroll as Rev. Mother Superior
Rev. Mother Superior (most notably portrayed by Rue McClanahan) is given a crusty, but likable portrayal by Broadway veteran Carroll, who also directs the production and toured in the role for two years. Pairing just the right amount of eye-rolling with glimpses of a soft heart, Carroll creates a thoroughly enjoyable character.

Created for the stage in 1985 and television subsequently, various punchlines and one-liners referencing popular topics in the '80s are adjusted for today's current events, particularly during Sister Robert's (Tucci) impersonations.

With adult-based humor involved, parents might want to leave the little, impressionable ones at the sitter for the evening. As hilarious as a nun tripping on an illegal inhalant might be for some, others might be less comfortable with their children viewing this scene.

Bottom Line: Beef and Boards' Nunsense gives Catholics and non Catholics alike an evening of rowdy fun, lessons in religion and fundraising.

For tickets, show times and directions, visit

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her newest column, Infused at and and as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published,, in M and Retired Living magazines and several newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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