Bingo and heaven-sent performances hold ‘Nunsense’ aloft at Norris Theatre

The sisters warmly welcome the audience (be prepared to answer or perhaps tell a nun-related joke). She’s witty and savvy, though she becomes inebriated sniffing a bottle of rush. And of course at one point in her youth she wanted to go into showbiz.Joining her “onstage” is young novice Sister Mary Leo (Noelle Marion), who can dance, as she shows us in her red satin pointe shoes. Then the Reverend Mother (Dawn Stahlak) arrives. Fortunately, Marion can dance too, in her ballet solo “Benedicite” and in the group’s tap number, “Tackle That Temptation With a Time Step.”
NUNSENSE
Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.Where: Norris Theatre, 27570 Norris Center Drive, Rolling Hills Estates.Tickets: $30-$65.Length: 2 hrs., including intermission.Suitability: Mature teens and adults.Information: 310-544-0403; www.palosverdesperformingarts.com. ★★★&#xbdWhen: 8 p.m. today, 2 and 8 p.m.

That’s how hard Goggin worked to set up this revue by the Little Sisters of Hoboken. It also calls upon its cast to showcase multiple talents, from expected song-and-dance skills to unexpected skills.As the backstory goes, the convent’s chef accidentally introduced botulism into her vichyssoise, killing 52 sisters. And so this fundraiser. Singing, laughingWith book and music by Dan Goggin, based on his line of greeting cards, “Nunsense” is pretty much an excuse for more than a few songs and more than a few gags. The survivors had money to bury only 48 of them; four are in the freezer, awaiting interment (cue joke about blue nuns).

But when she brings out a puppet as part of the “act” (how they got that puppet to look just like Mary Amnesia is a modern miracle), Zamora turns her puppet into Ethel Merman. Zamora sings in a light soprano as the sister’s tremulous self. Beyond her skill in hot-wiring cars, Sister Robert Anne (Rebecca Lumiansi) likewise had aspirations to perform, and a bit of talent, which she proudly displays in “Playing Second Fiddle,” about being an understudy onstage and in life.Meet the playersThe charmingly wacky Sister Mary Amnesia (Silvie Zamora) lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head.

If you insist on a little sense in dramatic literature, you might note that “Nunsense” has not a lot. Identity, devotion, sisterhood, a calling? And yet this musical was the second-longest-running show in Off-Broadway history, lasting more than 10 years there.But if you want to be cheered up, perhaps tell a joke to the crowd, and play a quick but hilarious round of Bingo, this show will serve you well. Character development goes nowhere. These get mentioned here but get no payoff. In large part that’s thanks to its five heaven-sent musical-comedy performances.