The Nunsense concept originated as a line of greeting cards featuring a nun offering tart quips with a clerical slant. The cards caught on so quickly that Goggin decided to expand the concept into a cabaret show called The Nunsense Story, which opened for a four-day run at Manhattan's Duplex and remained for 38 weeks, encouraging its creator to expand it into a full-length theater production.
The original production of Nunsense, directed by Goggin, opened on December 12 1985 at the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theatre, where it ran for 3,672 performances, becoming the second-longest running off-Broadway show in history (after The Fantasticks). By the time it closed, it had become an international phenomenon translated into at least 26 languages with more than 6,000 productions worldwide. It has grossed over $300 million worldwide, and more than 25,000 women have played in Nunsense productions worldwide, including Edie Adams, Maxine Audley, Kaye Ballard, Honor Blackman, Pat Carroll, Peggy Cass, Phyllis Diller, Louise Gold, Maggie Fitzhugh and JoAnne Worley.
The five-woman production won four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including best off-Broadway musical, best book and best music. A 1985 London cast recording was made, as well as a 1986 recording with the off-Broadway cast. The show opened on London's West End at the Fortune Theatre in March 1987.
Goggin adapted both Nunsense and Nunsense 2 for television productions with Rue McClanahan as the Mother Superior. The show and its sequels are popular choices of community theatre and summer stock troupes. In 2004, the "20th Anniversary All-Star Tour" of the show starred Kaye Ballard as Sister Mary Regina, Georgia Engel as Sister Mary Leo, Mimi Hines as Sister Mary Amnesia, Darlene Love as Sister Mary Hubert, and Lee Meriwether as Sister Robert Anne.
Naturally, VCRs are now no longer such current or expensive devices, so modern presentations of the show tend to substitute newer or more generic terms such as "home entertainment system" or a "Plasma TV."
The second, Sister Amnesia's Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, is presented as a stop on the promotional tour for the nun's new album, I Could've Gone to Nashville, released after she regained her memory and discovered she really was Sister Mary Paul, a former country singer. In this edition the audience participates in a rousing auction.
The third, Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical, a behind-the-scenes look at a holiday television special taped by the sisters for Cable Access in their convent basement studio, culminates in a wild spoof of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet.
In the fourth, Meshuggah-Nuns!, the sisters are on a "Faiths of All Nations" cruise when the on-board cast of Fiddler on the Roof gets seasick, prompting the ship’s captain to ask them to put on a show. The fifth and so-far final edition, Nunsensations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue takes the sisters to the Nevada gambling mecca when a parishioner offers them $10,000 to perform in a club. After being convinced "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", the Reverend Mother agrees, and before long the nuns are clad in feathers and sequins and wowing the crowd at the Pump Room in the Mystique Motor Lodge.
A new version named Nunsense: The Mega-Musical Version is a remake of the original featuring additional songs, lines, and characters.
Campbell happily assumes habit of habits: New Martinez theater will play three 'Nunsense' comedies, and nothing else, until New Year's Eve.
May 12, 2007; Byline: Pat Craig May 12--In the theatrical pantheon, few dramatists have received the ultimate honor of having a theater...