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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Live-Stage 'Sister's Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?': Sister Can Act

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The highly interactive amusing Entertainment Events, Inc.  live-stage production "Sister's Easter Catechism: Will My Bunny Go to Heaven?," which is playing at Trinity Rep. in Providence though March 19 2017, qualifying as a Catholic Spring Fling is very apt. Trinity, which is running "Sister" concurrently with a tubular (Unreal TV reviewed) '80s-themed production of "Midsummer Night's Dream, sets the Shakespearean comedy at a 1986 Spring Fling prom.

Good Chicago Irish-Catholic girl and Second City Theater veteran Nonie Newton-Riley continues rocking the role of Sister after 17 years of channeling this old-school nun in touring one-woman "Late Nite Catechism" shows across the county. The heart that she brings to her current Eastercentric production includes strongly advocating that animals be allowed in Heaven and expressing deep sympathy for an audience member who tells of his aunt being denied burial in a Catholic cemetery because she chose to be cremated.

One cool thing about the audience driving much of the action is that this makes it worth seeing the show several times. Audience members attending the show the same night as you not-so-humble reviewer got to see him face a ruler across the knuckles for replying to Sister accusing cats of stealing money that they put it in the kitty.

The overall theme is that the performance is an adult Catechism class about Easter. An early portion of this that explains how the Roman Catholic calendar is why Easter does not fall on the same day each year. This leads to Sister quizzing audience members and handing out coveted small Easter treats as rewards. Glow-in-the-dark rosary beads and an ascension toy that has a small Jesus rise into a Dixie cup are the coolest of these items.

The second act largely is a series of game show skits in the guise of a quiz. Notable bits include having blindfolded contestants try to guess the identity of famous Catholics in pictures that Sister displays to the rest of the audience. A hint regarding this is that one round screams for a Madonna joke. Another game is a "The Price Is Right" style contest to guess the cost of items in a catalog that sells Catholic-themed items.

The nicest surprise in this amusing improvised overview of Catholicism is that Newton-Riley avoids going Nunzilla. Pre-show fears of slouching earning the aforementioned smack on the knuckles with a ruler go unrealized. Fidgeting does earn the offender a hilarious verbal reprimand.

The humanity of Newton-Riley comes through regarding her encore beginning with telling your not-so-humble reviewer to sit down and then sharing the sad news that retired nuns not being eligible for social security and otherwise facing genuine poverty prompts this class sister act to stand in the lobby with a basket for a collection for a local order. This worthy cause warrants bringing small bills to the show.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Catechism" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.