Sisters can’t be funny? That’s ‘Nunsense’ |

Sisters can’t be funny? That’s ‘Nunsense’

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” In the hit musical “Nunsense”, a nun finds an illegal drug in a student’s locker. When Mother Superior sniffs it, she accidentally gets stoned.

“Mother Superior gets higher than a kite and hilarity ensues,” said Sally Struthers, who plays Mother Superior in the show.

The scene leaves audiences at “Nunsense” crying from laughing so hard, said Dan Goggin, a New Yorker who wrote the musical.

“We have people come out and say, ‘Oh my gosh, my makeup all ran. I’ve never laughed that hard in my whole life,'” he said.

Struthers stars in “Nunsense” tonight at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. In the comedic musical, the nuns’ cook inadvertently poisons 52 sisters with a batch of bad soup. Because the nuns run out of money to bury their deceased sisters, they must place four of the bodies in the convent freezer. To raise money, the nuns hold a variety show at the Hoboken, N.J., school where they teach.

“It sounds so twisted and wrong but it’s really hilarious when you go through it,” Goggin said.

Five of the nun characters are based on Goggin’s teachers at a Catholic school in Michigan, where he grew up.

“Three of them are still alive,” Goggin said. “They consider themselves huge stars.”

“Nunsense” opened in 1983 a small cabaret theater in Greenwich Village.

“When we started out, I thought it was just going to be a fun little program we did in the cabaret just to amuse ourselves,” Goggin said. “Audiences loved it so much, they originally booked us for four weekends, we were there for 38 weeks. Then we thought, ‘Well, maybe we really have something here’ and we moved it off Broadway into a regular theater and then it just took off and snowballed.”

Today, more than 8,000 different productions of “Nunsense” have played worldwide. Struthers joined a cast of “Nunsense” in September that will tour venues across the country through the end of January.

Struthers said she brings her own sense of humor and comedic timing to the script.

And that’s the whole point of “Nunsense.” Goggin wants to debunk the myth that all nuns are somber, tough disciplinarians.

“In our show, the whole idea is to show the sense of humor that the nuns have, which is actually true of all the real nuns that I know,” he said. “They have a side that’s really fun and funny, and that’s the goal in our show.”

Struthers, who was raised Lutheran, said audiences don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy the show.

“I don’t want people to be thrown by the nun habit and the title of the show,” she said. “The show is not about religion. You don’t have to be Catholic to understand the jokes. There’s something for everyone.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

Support Local Journalism