Thursday, July 18, 2019

Victoria Operatic Society braces for a whole lot of Nunsense

July 10, 2019 by Katy Weicker, staff writer

The Victoria Operatic Society (VOS) mounts theatre productions twice a year; with RENT and Shrek the Musical already under its belt, the assumption was that VOS was done for 2019. However, that’s not the case: VOS recently announced a surprise third show, Nunsense.

“This is kind of unusual for VOS,” admits director Doug Crockett. “We don’t normally—or haven’t in years—done a summer show. Normally we just have the two: the spring and the fall shows, and we do the big productions. We had been talking about wanting to do a smaller show, because there’s so many good ones out there, but financially it was never really a viable thing to do.”

Nunsense is a surprise third 2019 theatre production for Victoria Operatic Society (photo provided).

A grant from the Royal & McPherson Theatres Society gave the company funding for the third show. This meant that VOS had just weeks to mount a complete production—about half the amount of time it typically has, according to Crockett. With such a tight time crunch, the company had to be strategic when picking what show to do. Settling on the musical comedy about a group of nuns in the throes of a talent show, Crockett was confident that casting wouldn’t be an issue. 

“We chose Nunsense because it does have a smaller cast—five women—and we just knew that there were some amazing actresses in town who would be able to pull this off,” he says. 

When the casting was complete, the challenge was then learning an extraordinary amount of material at lightning speed—not an easy feat, considering the cast and crew are all volunteers with lives and jobs outside the theatre. This means a lot of long evening and weekend rehearsals—and even then, the team tries to sneak in as much extra rehearsal time as they can, stretching their Sunday rehearsals a little longer. 

“It was only going to be three hours to begin with and then the actresses actually said, ‘Can we add another hour to this, please?’” says Crockett. “So, we’re like, ‘Sure! Come on in whenever you want!’”

Nunsense includes a large tap dance number, choreography, and singing; however, the structure of the show helps to make it more manageable for the cast, according to Crockett.

“Each one of them has a sort of featured song and scene and everything,” says Crockett. “So, the way the play is written, each one of them has a moment. So that’s nice for the actresses—and also, they get to focus in a little bit more on their particular scene and storyline. You know, again, it’s such a short amount of time to rehearse.”

The actresses are also preparing for the unpredictability of audience interaction. 

“Because the premise of the show is that it’s a fundraiser, the audience is actually the audience at the fundraiser,” says Crockett. “So they come out at the beginning and they say, ‘Welcome to our fundraiser; if you haven’t heard, this is why we’re having it,’ and at certain points they go out into the audience and interact with the audience, so it becomes a little bit of improv for them too, possibly—depending on the answers that the audience gives.”

Despite how hectic mounting the production has been, Crockett says there is one thing the women in the show won’t have to grapple with.

“One of the reasons we picked the show,” he jokes, “is because it’s only five women, they’re all nuns—limited costuming!”

Nunsense
Various times, Friday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14
$35, McPherson Playhouse
rmts.bc.ca

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