Easy Street Returns to the Stage With ‘Nunsense’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Maureen Collins’ has long wanted to play the role of Mother Superior in “Nunsense.”

She’ll finally get the chance this weekend when Easy Street Productions presents the comic musical at Ford Family Recital Hall.

“Nunsense” takes place in the convent of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, where an unfortunate cooking incident has left many most of the sisters dead of food poisoning. The remaining five nuns decide to put on a show to raise enough money to bury them.

With her stage background, Collins is a natural for the role of Sister Regina, who is in charge of the convent. But that’s not the only reason. The Easy Street co-founder attended Catholic schools from first grade through high school.

“I’ve been in training to be a nun for many years,” she said with a laugh.

Collins considered joining a religious order back then.

“At Ursuline [High School], some of my best friends were the sisters,” she said. “I kept in close contact with them. They never tried to sell me on [becoming a nun] though. I loved singing and performing, and it just didn’t match up. But it was in the back of my mind.”

At Easy Street, Collins teaches musical theater to youngsters and is known for performing with her students. She hasn’t appeared on a stage since “Miracle on Easy Street” in December of 2019, and is happy to make her comeback with a fun musical and a grown-up cast.

“I have needed to do this for the last 20 months,” she said. “It’s a total diversion. It’s all fun and hilarity. It feels so foreign to get back on stage but we’re having a great time.”

Easy Street had originally scheduled “Nunsense” in March of 2020 but had to postpone it 10 days before it opened because of the onset of the pandemic.

Collins said the timing was right in 2019 for “Nunsense,” and it still is. “The ladies we wanted for the cast were all available,” she said. “I’m not sure how many big shows I left in me but I wanted to do this part.”

The cast of “Nunsense” also includes Carla D. Gipson as mistress of the novices, Colleen Chance as the streetwise Sister Robert Anne, Brandy Johanntges as the befuddled Sister Mary Amnesia, and Elizabeth Jadue as ballet-loving Sister Leo.

It’s the same cast that was assembled back in 2019, with one exception: Jadue was brought in to fill the role originally held by Elizabeth Amstutz, who went away to college.

“It’s an opportunity to feature five talented gals with lots of credits under the their belts, and with comic timing,” Collins said. “It’s miraculous they all agreed to be in it after that hiatus.”

The production is being directed by Todd Hancock, with musical direction by Don Yallech.

“Nunsense” premiered in 1985 and ran Off-Broadway for 10 years. The musical became a phenomenon that spawned six sequels and three spinoffs.

Easy Street retained the performance rights to the show for over a year before letting them lapse, said Hancock. It reacquired the rights earlier this year when the vaccine rollout was underway.

The returning cast members still knew the show but had to get up to speed again.

“We had to go through the rehearsal process again,” Hancock said, “but it wasn’t like starting from scratch.”

The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday Nov. 5 and Saturday Nov. 6, as well as 2:30 p.m. on Sunday Nov. 7.

Tickets are $25, $30 and $35 (plus handling fee) and are available by calling the box office at 330 744 0264 or at deyorpac.org. Group discounts are available.

The DeYor Performing Arts Centre, 260 W. Federal St., downtown, requires all attendees wear a mask.

Pictured: The cast of Easy Street’s “Nunsense” is (front row) Carla D. Gipson, Maureen Collins, Colleen Chance, (second row) Elizabeth Jadue and Brandy Johanntges.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.