The Nunsense Christmas Musical Nuncrackers takes place in real time in the basement of Mount Saint Helen’s Convent. It is the first TV Special being taped in the Cable Access TV Studio built by Reverend Mother with part of the prize money won earlier by Sister Mary Paul (aka Amnesia). A live camera with two television monitors is used to create an actual TV Studio feeling for the audience. The cast consists of Reverend Mother Regina, Sister Mary Hubert, Sister Robert Anne, Sister Mary Paul (Amnesia) and Father Virgil Manly Trott (Sister Leo’s brother). In addition, there are two young boys and two young girls (Mount Saint Helen’s students). The show is the annual Christmas program put on at Mount Saint Helen’s.
Opening with the rousing “Christmas Time Is Nunsense Time,” the cast gives a brief update of what’s been happening in the past with everyone. The audience will be treated to an original ballet based on The Nutcracker, featuring Sister Mary Leo as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Unfortunately, before Sister Leo makes her grand entrance, she is hit in the shin by one of the children’s batons. What to do? The show will have to proceed without the ballet until Reverend Mother can figure out how to salvage it. Sr. Amnesia holds a “Secret Santa” drawing to fill the time while Sr. Leo is being taken care of. Amusing items are given to audience members whose seat numbers are drawn as everyone joins in singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The students present their version of “I’m Santa’s Little Teapot,” after which Sister Mary Annette makes a surprise appearance singing the “Twelve Days Prior to Christmas.”
As if there isn’t already enough to deal with, word comes that the gifts under the convent Christmas tree have been stolen. Reverend Mother goes to investigate, leaving Father Virgil to entertain the audience with a touching ballad he wrote for his sister (Sister Mary Leo) called “The Christmas Box.” He then introduces Sister Amnesia, who sings her latest country hit, “Santa Ain’t Comin’ to Our House.” Reverend Mother tells tales of her years in the circus, remembering one winter storm when they were trapped in a hotel with Sophie Tucker. This is followed by Reverend Mother’s song “An Old Time Carnival Christmas.”
Meanwhile, the cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, who was supposed to appear, doesn’t show up, so Father Virgil is forced to impersonate her. He demonstrates some Christmas cooking, including instructions on making a fruitcake – the gift that lasts a lifetime. However, there seems to be an abundance of rum in the recipe, leaving Father Virgil quite soused. Reverend Mother thinks she has a solution to the ballet problem (not realizing that Father Virgil has come upon the same solution), and the ballet goes forward. Father Virgil and Reverend Mother appear as Sugar Plum Fairies, and the first act ends with the “dueling” Sugar Plum Fairies in a hilarious ballet spoof.
After visiting with the audience, the cast takes their places as the “camera rolls,” and Act Two begins with “Three Hundred and Sixty-Four Days,” a song about last-minute shopping woes. This is followed by the “Living Nativity Scene,” featuring the students and Sister Robert Anne singing a beautiful ballad, “Jesus Was Born in Brooklyn,” in which she recalls the time her father returned home on Christmas Eve. The popular carol “O Come All Ye Faithful” is woven throughout the song.
Behind the scenes, the Sisters are trying to find out what happened to all the missing gifts. But on stage, the program proceeds. Sister Mary Hubert and Reverend Mother sing a duet, “In the Convent (It’s a Wonderful, Nun-derful Life).” The Saint Andrews Sisters of Hoboken present “We Three Kings of Orient Are Us!” This is followed by Mother Superior’s introduction of the “Catholic Home Shopping Service,” in which she offers some very unusual items for Christmas.
When Reverend Mother is summoned upstairs to talk to the police about the stolen presents, Sister Robert Anne sings her big number, “All I Want for Christmas.” Next comes a sing-along based on the titles of 25 popular Christmas carols that everyone knows. As the evening moves toward the finale, we discover that the gifts in the convent weren’t stolen at all... Sister Mary Amnesia had given them to a poor family. Realizing how selfish they had been, Sister Hubert leads a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, gospel song entitled “It’s Better to Give Than to Receive.”
(5 female; 1 male)
SISTER MARY REGINA (Reverend Mother) – Mother Superior of the Little Sisters of Hoboken. She tries to be strict and keep order, but things often get out of her control. She grew up in a circus family, and her “showbiz” background and sense of humor always shine through her attempt at creating a tough exterior.
SISTER MARY HUBERT – Mistress of Novices. She is second in command to Mother Superior. She wanted to be a nun all her life and at times finds it difficult to deal with problems she firmly believes are created by Mother Superior’s ineptness. She is very practical. She and Mother Superior have a healthy and humorous rivalry.
SISTER ROBERT ANNE (also voice of the puppet nun, Sister Mary Annette) – A streetwise nun from Brooklyn, New York. She is one tough cookie but has a heart and soul of gold. The students love her because she “speaks their language.” She feels she has real theatrical potential and is constantly frustrated by Reverend Mother’s refusal to let her “star” in the show
SISTER MARY PAUL (also known as AMNESIA) was hit on the head with a crucifix and for a long period didn’t remember who she was. Now, everyone knows she is Sister Mary Paul, a country singer who jump-started her recording career as the first nun to appear at the Grand Ole Opry. Even though she has her memory back, she always seems to be a “little vacant” but innocently endearing.
SISTER MARY LEO* (optional role) – A novice in the first three shows, now has her black veil. She is very excited to be in the Christmas show because Reverend Mother has allowed her to dance in the Nutcracker Ballet. Sister Leo has dedicated her life to becoming the first famous nun ballerina.
FATHER VIRGIL MANLY TROTT – Sister Mary Leo’s “real-life” brother. He is a Franciscan Father of Fort Wayne and grew up in the Mississippi Delta where he and his sister were part of the Trott Family Singers. He now has his own radio show, and the sisters invited him to participate in the Christmas program because they knew he could give them pointers on presenting a good show.
Mount Saint Helen’s students are cast with two boys and two girls ranging in age from approximately 8-14, depending on talent and ability to handle the material:
*Sister Mary Leo appears only at the top of the show (and is usually portrayed by an assistant stage manager or other backstage crew person). We use a fake bio with a fake name in the program so the audience doesn’t catch on to the fact that Sister Leo, because of an unfortunate accident, won’t be able to appear in the body of the show.
The original production had a cast of 9 performers.