Sun 7th – Sat 13th August 2011


Edie Livesey

at 10:32 on 14th Aug 2011



Nunsense is extremely silly but quite fun for all that. Five nuns need to raise some cash so put on a cabaret evening. All of them turn out to have had fantasies of going on the stage before their vocation – as one of them put it, ‘I planned to get to God through the dance.’ The reason why they need the money is just too silly to explain, but it is comically illustrated through a parody in ballet introduced as the Dying Nun. The real highlight of the piece was the bit where one of the nuns made the ballet dancing nun’s wimple flap like a swan’s wings. On a related theme, the bit where the understudy nun creates Sister Heidi and Sister Pippi Longstockings with her wimple was also amusing.

In general, the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre production of this musical lacked energy – to be fair, this was their last performance and they seemed quite tired. The Dying Nun and the tap routine were very well done, but elsewhere the dancing lacked conviction. The backing music was too loud and you couldn’t always hear the singers. All the cast struggled with singing and dancing energetically at the same time, particularly over the sound of tap shoes – this requires some power and stamina.

The best thing about the singing was the diction, which was mostly excellent. This was particularly evident in the understudy nun’s first solo, which required very clear enunciation. Most of the cast seemed more comfortable in the chest voice, which was unfortunate, given that most of the songs required use of the head voice most of the time. These sections were flawed in the usual kinds of ways – not enough centre column support, too much breathiness in the sound, overly tight throats. The singers are all still learning and the power to sing over the backing music will come in time.

The American accents were very well imitated. The show contained some good gags that were convincingly delivered. Sister Amnesia had a lovely voice and did a good job of the puppetry scene, though she could work on her breath control in her second solo. The Mother Superior rather came into her own in the drug-taking scene, and emerged as quite a good actress.

The main thing was that the cast seemed to have had fun putting on the show. The play and production were both pretty ropy, but the audience had a few giggles and it wasn’t actually painful to watch. I hope that they carry on enjoying acting, singing and dancing in the future.


David Knowles

at 11:49 on 14th Aug 2011



Nunsense tells the rip-roaring yarn of a group of nuns who, having lost the majority of their order to poisoned soup, decide to hold a charity concert to raise money for the concert and raise a few dollars on the way. On this journey they dance, sing and generally prove that being a nun doesn’t have to be dull.

This production by Norfolk Youth Theatre definitely has its moments. The tap break was particularly impressive for example and some of the acting and direction was quick and witty. The ballet dancing by another was also impressive. However, the whole show suffered from a rather crippling lack of energy. I felt that the cast had been affected badly by the sight of the rather small audience and had never really recovered. Unfortunately, if there is one thing that is needed to make Nunsense work it is sass.

Singing was generally in tune but there were sufficient dodgy notes from all the actresses to make me wince. I could hear several voices cracking in the cast as well which was a shame, the girls are undoubtedly talented and there is nothing more infuriating than being let down by something you cannot control.

Apart from the energetic tap break (if only it had been like that the whole way through!) the choreography was fairly uninspiring and dull. Endless steps and clicks that were never really in time brought an unwelcome monotony to the evening. Praise however must go to the young clarinettist and saxophonist who played tunefully throughout and brought some musical relief from the synthed keyboard and drum kit.

This production was not awful by any stretch of the imagination. But it was let down by a lack of confidence and poor choreography. I look forward to seeing them at the fringe again.


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