by Joe Bollig
LANSING — Fundraising for a new church is never easy, but St. Francis de Sales here is getting help from a religious order: the Little Sisters of Hoboken.
But the Sisters are in dire need themselves.
Sister Julia, Child of God, the order’s cook, killed off 52 of their 71-member community with poisoned vichyssoise. Since Reverend Mother Superior blew their remaining cash on a VCR, four Sisters remain in the freezer. That’s why five of the surviving Sisters had to travel to Lansing — to raise money to bury the remaining Sisters.
For those who’ve kept their noses buried in their missalettes too long, the Little Sisters of Hoboken is the fictional religious order in the musical comedy “Nunsense.”
“Nunsense” will be performed Oct. 12-14, and 19-21 at the Immaculata High School Auditorium, 600 Shawnee, Leavenworth. Show times are 8 p.m., except for the 2 p.m. Sunday matinees. Tickets are $8 for adults; $5 for children age 12 and younger. For advance tickets, call (913) 351-3199, or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The show, directed by Joshua J. Shockey, features Trish Gleisberg as Mother Superior, Linda Finch as Sister Mary Hubert, Larissa Klinger as Sister Robert Anne, Melissa Rohrer as Sister Mary Amnesia, and Lexie Hofer as the sweet young novice Sister Mary Leo — who seeks to be the first-ever nun/ ballerina.
Both the director and actors are local talent. Ironically, only one is Catholic — Lexie Hofer, whose mother, Gena, brought the Little Sisters of Hoboken to Lansing as a fundraiser for a new St. Francis de Sales church building.
“My husband and I were trying to plan a huge fundraiser for the church,” said Gena Hofer. “Mr. Shockey and I [put on the musical] ‘Annie’ last year, and he called me and said, ‘What do you think of ‘Nunsense’?’ And I said, ‘Wow, that would be great. How about [doing it] as a fundraiser for St. Francis de Sales?’
Hofer said Shockey was quick to agree, as were the cast members.
“We have a fabulous church community and are friends with many people in the community,” said Hofer. “Leavenworth and Lansing are very tight communities, and they also love to perform, and they love this show.”
Although no actual nuns will appear on stage, at least one is part of the production.
Sister Peg Johnson, SCL, is one of the three pianists involved in the production. According to pastor Father Mike Stubbs: “She can really make those keys smoke.”
Sister Peg, who has been a Sister of Charity for 42 years and played piano for more than 50, said, “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a privilege to play for it.”
Joining Sister Peg on piano are parishioner Michael Quinn, who will provide the entertainment before the show, and parish music director Joan Leonard.
Although he won’t appear on stage, Father Stubbs says he’s ready for anything at his post in the concession stand.
“I volunteered to do concessions,” he said. “Not confessions, although I’m open to the other as well if we have any takers.”
Despite its Catholic theme, Gena Hofer said the humor is “ecumenical” as long as one has a sense of humor.
“The show is just hilarious in and of itself, whether one is Catholic or not,” said Hofer. “The comic relief is outstanding. It’s audience-friendly, with lots of audience participation and improvisation, so there are lots of opportunities for these ladies to shine. It can be different every night.”
— Additional reporting by Anita McSorley