When the curtain goes up on Thursday evening in the Philomath High auditorium for the first of three performances of “Nunsense,” the five students on stage will undoubtedly enjoy the opportunity to act and sing in front of a live audience.
Sure, they’ll be masked, but it’s an audience that they can entertain — folks tapping toes to the music and laughing at the right moments.
“I enjoy the social aspect of it all. I really miss being able to do things in groups with people,” PHS senior Delaney McDonough said Monday afternoon following a rehearsal. “If it weren’t for theater, I’d probably do sports instead but, you know, theater is just something I enjoy more. It’s just the family you build.”
Khyra Cory, a junior, talks with excitement about the upcoming performances.
“Honestly, I just love the theatrical aspect of it,” Cory said. “Like during COVID, I missed theater so much and I’ve always just been someone who loves being on stage — whether it’s in band or theater or whatever it is. I really also missed the relationships you build with your cast members.”
Each show begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the PHS auditorium. Admission is $5 at the door but PHS students can get in free with their student ID. Guests are required to wear masks.
A musical comedy written by Dan Goggin, “Nunsense” was a popular off-Broadway show that led to sequels, spin-offs and a television adaptation. Erica Hall, Philomath High’s performing arts director, performed in the play herself when she was a teenager.
“I did this show in high school and remember that it was small but also that it was hilarious and wanted the chance to do it again,” Hall said.
In addition to McDonough and Cory, the rest of the five-member cast is made up of three freshmen — Shyanne Barton, Reagan Chisholm and Michiko Araki.
“This play is basically about these five nuns trying to put on this play to earn money because there was a catastrophe in the convent where a lot of their sisters died,” Cory said when asked how she would describe the musical. “And they need to raise money in order to give them a proper burial.”
McDonough said it’s not like anything she’s ever done on stage.
“It’s always nice to just experience new things in general — especially since in middle school, you were so used to knowing that it’s some Disney movie or something like that,” McDonough said. “It’s really fun; I think there are a lot of good bits in it.”
When asked about the level of difficulty with performing the musical, Cory said it’s a little more intense because there are only the five characters, as opposed to a production that has a lot of cast members off and on the stage. That means a lot of time in the spotlight.
“As long as you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and you’re reviewing and reading your script, it’s not that difficult,” Cory said, “except there’s also an emotional aspect to it that you have to put into your part and I know that can be hard for some people.”
The cast and crew have been working on the musical since the beginning of the school year.
“I guess the hardest part would be that I have the most lines and I have some bigger lines than most of the other girls in the play,” McDonough said. “But other than that, it’s fairly simple. It’s like what I’ve done in the past.”
With all of those lines, McDonough said there have been some late nights with friends trying to get the part memorized.
“I’m Reverend Mother, which is essentially the head of the nuns, the head of the convent, and she just tries to make sure everything goes right,” McDonough said.
Cory plays the role of Mary Hubert, the second-in-command sister.
“She’s the mistress of novices and her job is to basically keep the nuns in check and make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and to help the Reverend Mother as much as possible,” Cory said.
The other roles are Sister Robert Anne (Barton), Sister Mary Amnesia (Chisholm) and Sister Mary Leo (Araki).
“It wasn’t anything I had heard of but as soon as we started, I just fell in love with it,” Cory said about the production. “I love the music, I love my part, I love the songs that I sing. I’m so happy that I have the opportunity to be in it.”
Hall’s perspective on a return to live performances revolves around the familiarity of past productions.
“It’s like nothing has changed,” Hall said. “We came back to a ‘normal’ year and jumped right back in with both feet.”
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