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Nuncrackers: the Christmas musical at Farris this weekend

By Sara Seidel

Those mixed-up Christmas carol lyrics are a tiny fraction of the gags you’ll see and hear when the wacky nuns from Mount Saint Helen’s Convent return to the Farris Theatre this weekend in Nuncrackers, The Christmas Musical.
The show, presented by the Ray County Community Arts Association, picks up the story line introduced this fall when area actors presented the first in a series of hilarious musicals written by Dan Goggin.
In this installment, the nuns prepare to present a Christmas musical in a cable access studio that the Reverend Mother, played by Tracy Sisson, built in the convent’s basement. Absolutely nothing goes well, however.

foreground, as Sister Mary Amnesia, belts out a number accompanied by nuns and a father portrayed by, from left, Haley Hook, Lisa Reed, Ryan Kugler, Sandy Cazzell and Elizabeth Rogers. Nuncrackers: The Christmas Musical is set for Dec. 6-8 at the Farris Theatre. (Photo by Sara Seidel/For the Richmond News)

foreground, as Sister Mary Amnesia, belts out a number accompanied by nuns and a father portrayed by, from left, Haley Hook, Lisa Reed, Ryan Kugler, Sandy Cazzell and Elizabeth Rogers. Nuncrackers: The Christmas Musical is set for Dec. 6-8 at the Farris Theatre. (Photo by Sara Seidel/For the Richmond News)

After the opening number re-introduces the cast, the audience learns that the nuns’ show will feature a ballet based on The Nutcracker. In it, Sister Leo, played by Melanie Hamilton, is to portray the Sugar Plum Fairy, but she’s injured before taking the stage. Sister Mary Amnesia, played by Annie Quick, holds a Secret Santa drawing to fill time – and real audience members win silly prizes thanks to her efforts.
Sister Hubert, played by Sandy Cazzell, then reveals the next disaster: All the gifts under tree have been stolen. In a tender moment, Father Virgil, played by Ryan Kugler, sings “The Christmas Box” to remind everyone about the real meaning of Christmas.
Then the convent cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, portrayed by Dawn Stigall, doesn’t show up for her appearance in the musical, so Kugler’s Father Virgil impersonates her making fruitcake, getting “soused” and telling a few slightly ribald jokes in the process.
And that’s not the half of it.
The show also features Lisa Reed, as Sister Robert Ann, singing a ballad as she and convent students, portrayed by Isabelle Rogers, Elizabeth Ethetton, Maggie Sause and Niall Sause, perform a Living Nativity Scene.
The nuns also lead an audience sing-along based on the titles of popular Christmas carols.
The nuns include Rayne Ethetton as Sister Wilhem, Elizabeth Rogers as Sister Brendan and Haley Hook as Sister Luke. Sisters bearing their real-life given names are Lacie Bozarth, Andrea Freese, Cindy Sause, Sammy Walker and Kelsey Knutter.
Fathers Clay and Denton are portrayed by Clay McGillevry and Denton Williams.
Show director Mac Rogers appears as Father MacDoogal. He also designed the sets and lighting.
The actors will be accompanied by not one but two electric keyboards. Kim Hook, Carol Waters and Donna Matthews will play the instruments, and Brenda Jensen will serve as percussionist. Opal Richardson is the orchestra’s conductor and the show’s producer.
Billie Hamann is the musical director. Irma Brown crafted the costumes for the show.
Mark Cazzell is serving as stage manager and assisted on the set crew. Jim Sisson is also part of the crew. Ben Thompson will operate the sound board and Ed Jackson, the light board.
The show is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m.
Reserved seat tickets are $10 for seniors and students and $12 for adults. For more information or to reserve tickets, contact the Farris at 816-776-6684.

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As an added attraction, Christmastime at the Friends Gallery will be open before the show.
Home-baked goods will be available for sale Dec. 6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. until Nuncrackers show time.
Gifts, including hand-painted china and porcelain, quilted pieces, wall art and smaller items are also available. The pieces are all by local and regional artists.

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