REVIEW: Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night (Nuns4Fun)

| December 15, 2010
  
  

A fun evening of parochial flashbacks!

   
 

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Nuns4Fun Entertainment and Vicki Quade present
  
Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night
 
Written and Directed by Vicki Quade
at
Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
through Dec 24  |  tickets: $30  |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

Sunday was a true Chicago winter day. The snow and cruel wind brought back memories of the 1967 blizzard. It’s what was called ‘the big one’ for a while and we Chicagoans take pride in having survived. A little girl named Kathy Deneen trudged through the snow the day after the blizzard in spite of snow past her pull-over galoshes. Holy Name of Mary School did not have snow days. Memories!  Flash forward to 2010 and a grown up (sometimes) Kathy trudges herself over to the Royal George Theatre through a nasty winter storm. It was a real trip to walk into a perfectly Mother Superior Ho-Ho-Holy Nightreproduced Catholic classroom.

I gawked in amazement at the felt board with both Nativity and secular Christmas appliqués. Virgin Mary’s and Baby Jesus’ abounded. I looked for a scary cloakroom to put my coat and scarcely remembered that I wasn’t wearing pullover galoshes when Lisa Braatz bounded into the classroom. Ms. Braatz is one of the actresses (along with Kathleen Puls Andrade, Michelle Renee Thompson and Andrea Moser) portraying Mother Superior in Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night, produced and directed by Vicki Quade. Whether you are Catholic or not, the show is good, clean, and G-rated fun. In fact, if you are or were raised Catholic like me, it can be a little weird separating the show from real memories.

Ms. Braatz embodies a nun right after Vatican II but still bred in the old catechism. Her character has ramrod posture devoid of any sexuality in her movement. The head- gear and the rosary were in perfect placement. I almost stood up and recited The Act of Contrition for being grumpy about the weather!

Ms. Braatz takes the audience through a stroll down memory lane regarding the saints, martyrs, and of course sin – but only the venial variety. Mother Superior asks names, and if you aren’t named for a saint then you must be a Protestant. ‘What kind of name is Austin?’ she quizzed one young woman who sat with her family of –gasp- former Catholics. She asked if there were any single or widowed women in the classroom and I raised my hand. I got a holy card with Saint Ann who is the patron of single women and widows. My prayer instructions are ‘Saint Ann! Saint Ann! Send me a man as fast as you can!” Yes it’s amusing but tell that to South Siders with saint statues buried in the yard to bring forth a homebuyer.

Mother Superior has all sorts of displays and prizes for correct answers on holy days of obligation, one of which is Christmas. Her spiel on Baby Jesus’ birthday is funny because of the authenticity. I’m pretty sure that even non-Catholics would get the humor and be good sports about not being the ‘one true religion’. She is ecumenical in her references to the Hanukkah Bush and Muslim New Year but that’s where the comparison ends. The class/audience gets a lesson in St. Nicholas that culminates in some amusing pictures of the character as well as real history. The best picture is good old St. Nick and Baby Jesus. It must be a miracle since they were a few centuries apart in existence but you never question Mother Superior.

Mother Superior Lisa BraatzAct 2 of Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night consisted of putting together the Nativity and the secular Christmas to get to the finals and win a trip to Rome where the Pope lives. Our parish of St. Gabriel was sure to win by putting a Santa, a Christmas tree, an elf, and a candy cane or two around the Nativity scene to make it more contemporary. If you have ever taken a walk around some Chicago neighborhoods during the holidays, this will ring true and funny. Ms. Braatz assigns roles to audience members for a wacky time traveling Nativity play. One young woman was given the role of the Virgin and a blue feather boa because the Blessed Mother is always seen in blue. Then five Angel Gabriel’s are cast from the audience and given different readings of the Annunciation (another Holy Day of Obligation by the way). Mother Superior gave one of the few men in the audience the role of Joseph and a Beatnik wig. Everyone was happy to participate and it didn’t involve a smack in the face with a cream pie or on the knuckles with that giant candy cane. I will admit to drawing back a little when Mother Superior picked it up.

In all, I recommend this show for family outings and where to take your relatives from the old neighborhood. That is particularly if you’re from Chicago, where we ask what parish did you grow up in. This show is one of the nuns4fun productions that have been entertaining Chicagoans for years. They take donations for retired nuns who are not covered under the Social Security Act and are now living that vow of poverty without the protection or security afforded to priests.

Put on your galoshes and your sense of humor and get to the Royal George. FYI-the Baltimore Catechism is available online and it would be good to do a little brush up if you want a lovely macramé plastic cross!

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

For show times on Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night call The Royal George Theatre at 312-988-9000 and visit www.nuns4fun.com to get more information on more Mother Superior entertainment. I will let you know how that St. Ann thing works out.

 

 

  
  

Mother Superior Bios

Kathleen Puls AndradeKathleen Puls Andrade has been a professional actor/voiceover/improviser in Chicago for the past fifteen years. She appears regularly in habit at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago. She is a member of SAG, AFTRA, and has several on-camera credits, plus numerous voiceovers for radio and television. Her one-woman show, Journey to the Center of the Uterus, is a hilarious look at the conception industry. She has performed with Apple Tree Theatre, Strawdog, Lifeline Theatre, Chicago and Minneapolis Improv Festivals, Chicago Comedy Company, Playground Improv Theatre, Hiatus in New York City, and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She also created and produced the National Funny Women Fest 2000. In addition to teaching at Second City in Chicago, she has taught improv workshops for many others.

Lisa BraatzLisa Braatz lives in Naperville and has performed a number of years with Get Away With Murder, Murder Mystery Players, and The Mystery Shop. She played Edie, the bride’s mother, in the locally produced "Patsy’s Bridal Shower". She has appeared in commercials, films, and television. She attended Catholic schools and remembers Sister Paul Mary as the toughest nun she has ever run across, but of course Lisa was always the good girl and never got whacked.

Michelle Renee ThompsonMichelle Renee Thompson grew up in Columbus, Ohio in a very Catholic community where two things were important: Mass and Ohio State Football. She has lived and performed in Chicago for many years, working with a variety of companies, including Chicago Actors Ensemble, Touchstone Theatre and Bailiwick Repertory. She is a founding member of Corn Productions, where she has performed in, directed, choreographed and written several plays. She also performs stand up comedy and has appeared in the independent film, “Never”. Michelle has a BFA in Theatre with a Dance Minor, from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. She has also studied at The Second City Conservatory, in Chicago. She would like to thank her family for their constant love and support!

Andrea MoserAndrea Moser appeared as a variety of southern characters in the Tennessee Williams spoof, “Dysfunctional Dixie Christmas,” which Vicki produced in Milwaukee and Chicago. Andrea is thrilled to rejoin the group for another holiday show! She is a member of the sketch comedy/improv group, The Show, which has performed at various Milwaukee venues. She has also worked with Noble Fool Productions (Flanagan’s Wake), Sunset Playhouse (Switch Witch, and Goodnight, Lulu), and in Seattle with Unexpected Productions, Greenstage, and Theatersports. She has directed numerous children’s shows with North Shore Academy of the Arts and also participates in Milwaukee’s 24- and 48-hour film festivals.

  
  

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Category: 2010 Reviews, K.D. Hopkins, Royal George Theatre

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