True Believers

Lots of heart and laughs in pair of holiday shows

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‘The Nunsense Christmas Musical’ is good, family fluff. Credit: Robin Jackson

For Marin audiences seeking live, holiday-themed entertainment, local theater companies are currently presenting an ecclesiastical musical and a one-man holiday reminiscence.

In 1985, writer-composer Dan Goggin adapted his line of greeting cards that featured nuns saying outrageous things into a cabaret show and then an off-Broadway musical. That show, Nunsense, told the tale of the Little Sisters of Hoboken putting on a variety show to raise funds to bury the last of 52 nuns accidentally poisoned by the convent cook. That basic plot has sustained the Nunsense franchise over six sequels and three spinoffs.

The College of Marin presents Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical, the holiday version of the popular franchise. This time, the Sisters are broadcasting from a TV studio in the basement of the convent where they host a cable-access show to raise funds for the Mount St. Helen’s School. Under the imperious guidance of Sister Mary Regina (director Lisa Morse) and the assistance of Father Virgil Manly Trott (Izaak Heath), the Sisters and their parochial school students will sing, dance, tell groan-inducing jokes and perform a habit and tutu-clad version of The Nutcracker.

It’s a silly piece of holiday fluff, performed earnestly by the (mostly) youthful cast. It wouldn’t hurt to have an understanding of the tenets of Catholicism, but if you’ve seen Sister Act, you’re good to go.

In San Rafael, the Belrose is hosting David Templeton’s Polar Bears, an autobiographical piece about the lengths a father will go to keep his children happy. His own belief in Santa Claus obliterated at the tender age of four, David (played by Chris Schloemp) is intent on seeing his children’s belief maintained until a reasonable age—a task that becomes increasingly difficult to maintain as his marriage ends, his ex-wife succumbs to cancer and his children grow older.

Not as somber as that sounds, it’s actually a rather sweet and humorous tale told well by Schloemp.

 

‘Nuncrackers’ runs through Dec. 9 at the College of Marin Studio Theatre, 835 College Ave., Kentfield. Thursday–Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm. $15–$30. 415.485.9385. pa.marin.edu. ‘Polar Bears’ runs through Dec. 15 at the Belrose, 1415 Fifth Ave., San Rafael. Friday–Saturday, 7:30pm; $20–$25. 707.338.6013. thebelrose.com.

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