At the Hollywood Bowl-A-Rama, Sister Robert Anne and the musical director amuse the audience while the rest of the crew straightens out things with the management (“Welcome, Bienvenue”). The others arrive and they all sing their planned opening number (“Hello, Hollywood”). Sister Hubert wonders if their new show will have a plot; after all, they’ve done a lot of shows and they’ve never had one before (“The Plot.”)
Reverend Mother introduces an audience quiz called “Sisters in the Cinema,” led by Sister Amnesia and Sister Mary Leo. Sister Mary Annette, the notorious nun puppet, appears and Reverend Mother forbids her to sing one of her filthy songs. Sister Mary Annette says she has no intention of performing; she’s in Hollywood for a screen test. Though Sister Leo hopes to be discovered, Sister Hubert explains how difficult it is to get into the movies (“The Silver Screen”).
Sister Amnesia interrupts, carrying a raw turkey. She’s boiling a turkey because she heard the bowling alley is offering a $1000 prize. Reverend Mother explains that it’s “BOWL-a-turkey,” meaning get three strikes in a row.
Sister Leo looks back on her discouraging performing career (“Where is the Rainbow?”). When she learns that there really is a screen test, she runs off to get the casting notice.
Reverend Mother brings Sister Amnesia to the stage to sing her latest country hit, “The Bowling Ball Blues.” Amnesia’s number reminds Reverend Mother of when she first came to Hollywood with her circus family. She recalls how impressed she was with the movie posters featuring blonde bombshells (“The Hollywood Blondes/The Tinseltown Tap”).
The casting paper arrives and, indeed, there is a screen test happening right across the street! The film, entitled Nunset Boulevard, will be the life story of Dolores Hart, the famous star of Where the Boys Are who left Hollywood to became a Benedictine nun. Thrilled at the prospect of stardom (“Belts, Ballads and Blues Songs”), the sisters prepare to go for a screen test during their own show’s intermission (“The Casting Call”).
Back from their screen tests, the sisters thank the band and crew (“Welcome, Bienvenue” Reprise). Everyone seems to feel they blew it at the audition – except Sister Leo (“The Screen Test”). Sister Hubert, realizing that Sister Leo has her hopes up, prepares her for disappointment (“It May Never Happen”).
Reverend Mother, eager to keep the show moving, introduces “Whatever Happened To...” a production number in which she plays Baby Jane Hudson, the outrageous character created by Bette Davis. (The other four sisters, all in wheelchairs, appear as Joan Crawford’s character, Blanche.)
Sister Leo receives a phone call; the movie producer wants her for a callback, but without her veil. Reverend Mother is visibly upset (“The Plot” Reprise). She takes Sister Leo off to the dressing room, leaving the rest of the sisters to wonder what she’ll decide.
Meanwhile, Sister Amnesia, who has been out of sight for a bit, returns, declaring that she bowled a turkey!! Sister Hubert leads another audience participation game called “The Price is Righteous,” in which audience volunteers bid on items for a chance to bowl a turkey. When the bids are tabulated, the winners discover they must actually bowl a (fake) frozen turkey to knock down real bowling pins. They all try it, and the winners receive prizes.
The Reverend Mother returns with Sister Leo, who has removed her veil and looks beautiful. As the others escort Sister Leo offstage and wish her good luck, Sister Robert Anne remains behind to sing “That Kid’s Gonna Make It.” To relieve the stress, The Saint Andrews Sisters of Hoboken sing an upbeat number in three-part harmony (“The Flickers”).
Reverend Mother, increasingly concerned about Sister Leo and her potential disappointment, wonders whether she made the right decision (“There Was a Time”).
Sister Leo returns and announces she has been offered a part in the movie. The others celebrate, but she says she turned the part down. She needed to know she could do it, but in the end, she realized she’d rather stay in the convent.
It’s nearly time to get back to Hoboken and the students they love. Reverend Mother reminds Sister Leo that she’ll be choreographing their upcoming production of “The Catholic High School Musical.” Sister Leo says the musical was cancelled due to lack of funds, but Sister Amnesia proudly hands over $1,000 cash—the prize money she won for bowling a turkey! Once again, Sister Amnesia saves the day.
Sister Hubert leads the cast in the rousing finale (“Don’t Look Back—We Ain’t Goin’ That Way”) and the sisters prepare to head home (“So Long, Hollywood”).
REVEREND MOTHER, SISTER MARY REGINA – An Irish nun, rather hefty – a Sophie Tucker type. She was born into a circus family of tightrope walkers and was a tightrope walker herself. Her parents were known as Two Tons on the Tightrope. She entered the convent honoring a promise she made to the Lord when he saved her parents from drowning. (Vocally: A belter.)
SISTER MARY HUBERT – The Mistress of Novices. She was born in New Jersey and wanted to be a nun all her life. She is constantly getting Reverend Mother out of predicaments and feels she should really be Mother Superior. She is something like a Drill Instructor, claiming her methods are “gentle but firm.” (Strong singer – does the big gospel finale.)
SISTER ROBERT ANNE – A streetwise nun from Brooklyn, New York. She is tough as nails (but has a sentimental side). The students love her because she “speaks their language.” She spent part of her childhood in reform school and later had to decide between the convent and show business. With this show she thinks she might just be able to have it all! (Vocally: Needs a wide range, strong belter with a good head voice for ballads.)
SISTER MARY PAUL (aka AMNESIA) – An endearing nun (a Goldie Hawn/Gracie Allen type) who can’t remember who she is because a crucifix fell on her head. She is constantly causing problems through her naïve take on life. She has a puppet named Sister Mary Annette who is very risqué. (Vocally: Needs to be a legit soprano, but with a workable belt range.)
SISTER MARY LEO – A dancer and wants to dedicate her life to God as the first nun ballerina. Reverend Mother insists on the traditional habit and will not let her wear a tutu. This is a source of endless frustration for her. She is young and has a lot to learn. (Good singer leaning toward legit and less belting.)
URSULDEEN (or EARL DEAN) SNEDEKER – The pinsetter for the bowling alley. S/he appears during the “Price is Righteous” game to help out. This character can be played by the assistant stage manager or a backstage deck person.