Review: ‘Nuncrackers’ was a crazy good time

“Nuncrackers,” the recent Christmas musical presented at the Savannah Center for three nights was a fun-filled frolic with nuns anyone raised in parochial schools could only dream of having as teachers.

This cast of nuns was playful, funny, and downright entertaining—and they can sing! Nothing of the sort I remember from my 12 years of schooling by nuns in Ohio.

SMASH Productions of the Villages, LLC, created a few years ago, brought this production to the stage as the fourth installment of Dan Coggin’s Christmas musical series, “Nunsense.”

“It is so wonderful to perform here,” says Sister Hubert (Billie Thatcher) from the cast. “If I were anywhere else than in The Villages, I would be playing old lady parts.”

Sister Hubert’s real speaking voice is reminiscent of the late June Allyson; her singing voice is astonishingly strong, somewhat alto, and very pleasing to the ear. Her acting performance is absolutely delightful.

The story begins after the nuns win the lottery and start a broadcast studio in the basement of their Mount Saint Helen’s convent and school. The plot thickens as they tape their first TV special program for their new Cable Access Studio built by the Reverend Mother (Bonnie Williams). It stars all five of the singing and dancing nuns, Father Virgil (Bab Stehman, who also directed) and four young talented student actors who attend The Villages Charter School: Ethan Adams-Rae, MaKenzie Rees, Josie McDonald, Noah Winslett

Singing, dancing, joking, laughing and more singing is the rule as character plots and twists continue through two acts separated by a 15-minute intermission. Presumably to let your sides rest from all the laughing.

Throw in one of the nuns living her dream of ballet-dancing and dressed in a tutu placed on top of her religious habit, you can image the visual images this presents onstage.

The live house six-member band is directed by Kevin O’Connell who doubles as the keyboard synthesize player, along with Tom Budzinski on alto sax and flute; Dave Czohara on trumpet and flugelhorn, Dave Flanigan on synthesizer; Don Hainlen on bass. The live band made everything pop as the full house went wild with appreciation and a standing ovation.

Producers Carolyn Hoffman and Susan Feinberg led a team of another 20 team members all responsible for putting on a great show.

Mark your calendars for two more SMASH Productions at the Savannah Center: From “Broadway to Savannah” on April 17-18 and “Hello Dolly” in December 2019.