BLUE HILL — When I was a kid, we used to have an antique, wind-up gramophone with a small collection of vintage 78 records from the 1940s.
The hands-down favorite for me and my siblings was a record called “Ticklish Reuben,” which was largely a recording of the singer laughing (because he was ticklish, see?).
It was irresistible — the very definition of the term contagious laughter and in no time after cranking it up, we’d be rolling on the floor giggling helplessly trying not to pee our pants.
Well, there is a scene in the New Surry Theatre production of “Nunsense,” now playing at the Town Hall Theater, which brought me back to that wonderful sensation of joyous, out of control laughter.
Lori Sitzabee, playing the rather irreverent Reverend Mother Superior of the convent Little Sisters of Hoboken, has discovered a contraband substance in the school bathroom and succumbs to curiosity, taking a mighty whiff of the stuff.
What follows is a virtual soliloquy of laughter. She roars, guffaws, giggles, snorts, peals and shrieks, finding the very air she breathes hilarious. And we, the audience, are right there with her, feeling like kids again, helplessly infected with her laughter and trying not to pee our pants.
This fun musical is filled with many laughing points as the oddball covey of nuns comes up with one crazy scheme after another to raise money for their convent.
Actually, the premise is pretty macabre. The sister in charge of the kitchen has poisoned half the convent with her vichyssoise and they need the money to get the last three sisters, who are being stored in the freezer, buried. The surviving sisters seem far more interested in having their moment in the spotlight than getting their colleagues in the ground before the health inspector comes.
Sister Mary Robert (a delightfully ridiculous Shari John) pulls out impressions and a Carmen Miranda hat. Nina Robinson-Poole, who as Sister Mary Leo looks as luminous as an old master painting of a saint, performs a hilariously fluttery “Dying Swan” on point! Vanessa Hawkins is a total hoot as Sister Mary Amnesia who, as one might suspect, has memory loss issues and sings a duet about the life in the nunnery with her potty-mouthed sock puppet, then wanders into the audience to do an excellent, and often ad-libbed, stand-up routine with audience members.
Hazel Woodward is excellent as Sister Mary Hubert, who tries to be the voice of reason, in a place where reason has long since left the room. And, oh yes, there’s a cooking section, in which they make Mary Magdalene Tarts (heh, heh), a chorus of tap dancers, honky-tonk, gospel and choir singing, country crooning, some good jokes and others that are so lame they are as funny as the good ones.
The entire cast has fine singing chops and were well directed musically by Ms. Sitzabee, with sterling accompaniment by Paul Kelly.
Directed with nonstop action by Dindy Royster, our time with these crazy Little Sisters of Hoboken flies by and I heard several people complaining of sore tummy muscles from all the laughing as they left the theater.
So, anyone who wants to be royally entertained and at the same time give their abs a good workout should make one of the final weekend performances of “Nunsense” Aug. 23 and 24 at 7 p.m.
For tickets call 200-4720 or go to www.newsurrytheatre.org.