Cast Preparing for ‘Nunsense’ Opening June 19 at River Campus

Nunsense-imageCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 4, 2014 – The cast for the musical comedy “Nunsense” has been selected and rehearsals are under way for its June 19 premiere at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

Judith Farris, artist in residence, will play the role of Sister Mary Regina (Mother Superior). Southeast student Kirbi Mason of Cape Girardeau will play Sister Mary Hubert (Mistress of Novices). Michelle Contrino, Southeast instructor of theatre and dance, has been selected to play Sister Mary Leo.

Southeast senior Hannah Lundy of Columbia, Ill., will portray Sister Mary Robert Anne. Sister Mary Amnesia will be played by Southeast alumna Sami Gross of Cape Girardeau. Southeast junior Laura Liefer of Chester, Ill., will play the role of Sister Mary Silenzia. Southeast alumna Alyssa Cooper of the Kansas City, Mo., area, will play Sister Mary Mary and serve as assistant stage manager.

Dr. Kenn Stilson, professor of acting, directing and musical theatre and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance in the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts at Southeast, is directing “Nunsense.” From Shakespeare to modern musicals and plays, Stilson has directed more than 55 university theatre productions for Southeast Missouri State University, Texas Wesleyan University, Texas Woman’s University, Stetson University, The University of South Alabama and The University of Missouri-Columbia. He also has been an acting coach for 23 years.

Producers of “Nunsense” are Robert Cerchio, assistant director of the River Campus;  Rhonda Weller-Stilson, director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Production staff members and their roles are:

  • Logan Borders, a student from Rolla, Mo., assistant stage manager and scenic carpenter;
  • Sami Gross, Southeast alumna of Cape Girardeau, Sister Mary Amnesia;
  • Christopher Jorandby of Moline, Ill., professional lighting and props designer, lighting designer;
  • Stephanie Jorandby of Menomonee Falls, Wis., costume designer and theatre educator, props artisan and scene painter;
  • Caleb Long, a Southeast student from Marble Hill, Mo., stage manager;
  • Jeffrey Luetkenhaus of Cape Girardeau, production manager for the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, scene designer and technical director;
  • Tara Meyer of Cape Girardeau, Southeast alumna, assistant costumer designer and wardrobe head;
  • Sydney Pourcille, a Southeast student from St. Louis, sound designer, sound board operator and scenic carpenter;
  • Sarah Reeves, a Southeast student from St. Louis, publicity intern;
  • Collin Ritter, a Southeast student from Marble Hill, Mo., light board operator and scenic carpenter;
  • Gwendolyn Stewart, a Southeast alumna, carpenter/scenic painter;
  • Richard Stewart, a Southeast student from Oak Ridge, Mo., stage crew head;
  • Rebecca Taylor, a Southeast student from Bloomfield, Mo., props running crew head and scenic carpenter;
  • Rhonda Weller-Stilson, director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, costume designer.

Orchestra members are:

  • Joe Mason, formerly of Boston, Mass., where he was active in musical theater as a performer and music director, music director, conductor and keyboard;
  • Rebecca Hathaway Nelson, a California native, Orchestra: synthesizer;
  • Jay Contrino, Southeast adjunct Department of Music faculty, Orchestra: percussion;
  • Sam Godwin, Southeast student from Cape Girardeau, Orchestra: bass;
  • Trevor Smith of Jackson, Mo., a Southeast alumnus, Orchestra: reed;

Rehearsals are being held twice a day in both afternoon and evening. Students are helping to build the show and work from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

“We’ve had this show targeted for many years—since we first started discussing the idea of producing shows in the summer,” said Dr. Kenn Stilson, professor of theatre and dance and director of the production.  “‘Nunsense’ is such a popular musical, and it appeals to families and people of all ages. It’s so well written — very funny with extremely clever writing. The music is upbeat and memorable, and the characters are unforgettable. There’s a reason why it’s one of the longest running Off-Broadway shows in history.”

Performances are scheduled for June 19-22 and June 26-29 in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre. All shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on June 22 and 29.

We expect a huge response,” Stilson said. “‘Nunsense is written for a smaller space, so we’re producing it in the Rust Flexible Theatre. With only 190 seats available for each performance, we expect to sell out every single show.”

“Nunsense” is a musical comedy in which the Order of the Little Sisters of Hoboken takes over a high school auditorium to hold a fund-raising variety show to raise money to bury several sisters who were accidentally poisoned by their cook. They must inter the nuns before the health inspector comes and finds the dead nuns in the freezer. Fraught with hilarity, both Catholic and otherwise, five nuns try to perform their planned performance amidst chaos and calamity.

The show will be divided into two acts with one 15-minute intermission.

Farris, who is an artist in residence in Southeast’s Department of Theatre and Dance, will play the role of Sister Mary Regina (Mother Superior). She operates her own private voice studio in New York City as an adjunct to her busy singing career. Her specialty is achieving quick positive vocal results with professional actors and dancers: this has made her one of the most sought after teachers in the New York City theater community.

“That will, in itself, sell a lot of tickets,” Stilson said. “She’s going to be wonderful in this role. We suggest you reserve your tickets as early as possible.”

Stilson says actors and crew members will be paid a small stipend for these roles, but no housing or transportation costs are provided.

“Nunsense” is sponsored by the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts at Southeast.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265 or by visiting www.RiverCampusEvents.com.

For more information, contact Stilson at kstilson@semo.edu.