Front Row Reviews

“NUNCRACKER” Spreads Hilarious Holiday Humor

It’s been quite some time since I laughed this hard. Playwright Dan Goggin’s “Little Sisters of Hoboken” and Father Virgil bring full-speed humor to the stage. From handing random audience members tokens upon entry and quipping, “It’s been a while since you’ve been to confession,” we are thoroughly entertained. What a respite in a world at war.

In the style of Broadway’s “Nunsense,” The Nuncrackers Christmas Musical transports us to the basement of The Little Sisters of Hoboken convent in Mt St Helen, New Jersey, on the eve of their debut television holiday show. Four nuns, one priest, and four students plan to awe audiences, and awe they do.

Music, mayhem, and miscommunication seamlessly blends silliness with various forms of sharp, witty humor. The performance includes Vaudeville and circus-style antics, as well as light physical comedy. Puns, sarcasm, farce, and a charming parody of the church adds to the list of comedic elements. If you were raised with nuns or had them as teachers, the church jabs will have you uproariously laughing.

For instance, Sister Mary Amnesia (the talented Maeve Smith) refers to “The Nutcracker” as “The Ball Breaker.” As she hands “The Body of Christ breakfast cereal” to an audience member with a token, she quips, “Mouth full of Jesus.”


From left to right, top row: Sister Mary Amnesia (Maeve Smith), Sister Mary Hubert (Emma Sutherland), Father Virgil (Izaak), Mother Superior (Libby Oberlin), and Sister Robert Anne (Dani Innocenti-Beem). From left to right, lower line: Autumn Terradista, Fiona Smith, Vivian Haraszthy, and Raina Gibb.

Keyboardist/music director John Partridge, appearing as a priest, incorporates himself on stage and plays favorite re-worked Christmas carols sung with flair by the nuns. Jamie Love’s authentic costumes even had one audience member believing the piano player was a priest.

Directed by the seasoned theatre professional Andrew Smith, “Nuncracker’s” equally paced, quick-moving production leaves little room to catch your breath before the next pleasing scene. Heath’s Father Virgil’s cooking show and Innocenti-Beem’s circus clown humor shine, along with the ensemble singing a Village People parody of YMCA titled “In the Convent.”

Maeve Smith, as the energetic, loving people-pleaser Sister Amnesia, coupled with Innocenti-Beem’s Sister Robert Anne, form a dynamic singing duo with range and power. The goofy Reverend, Libby Oberlin, delights as the Mother Superior, while practical Emma Rose Sutherland’s stable Sister Mary Hubert reveals just how off-course this nunnery runs.

There are touching moments too. Father Virgil sings to disheartened Vivian, who fears there will be no toys—Jesus’s secret box, an empty box filled with love. The touching tea pot dance by the youngsters steals the audience’s hearts.

John Partridge’s music is lively, and Lissa Ferreira’s choreography captures the folly and fun of the show.

So, when you wake up Christmas morning, you might find Cane and Able candy under your tree or perhaps a gift card with a “gift of confession” coupled with a “gift of absolution.” Use them wisely. Or you may find yourself secretly wishing, “All I want for Christmas is a one-night stand.”

Come, laugh, sing along, forget the world outside, receive some holiday cheer, and finally, relax.

“Nuncracker” by Dan Goggin, directed by Andrew Smith, at Sonoma Arts Live,, Sonoma, CA to December 17, 2023

Cast:  Dani Innocenti-Beem, Raina Gibb, Vivian Haraszthy, Izaak Heath, Libby Oberlin, Fiona Smith, Maeve Smith, Emma Sutherland, Autumn Terradista