At the Lyric Theatre Wednesday night, “Nunsense Jamboree” cast member Andreahnna Rosenquist laughed as she described the challenge of wearing a nun’s habit for her role as Sister Mary Leo.
“It’s very hot,” Rosenquist good-naturedly said as cast and crew prepared for one of their final rehearsals before the musical comedy opens Friday night. “At the end of the show you kind of have a little bit of a tension headache, and it takes some getting used to for sure.
“I think I’m used to it now after wearing it for about a week, but at first you just feel kind of like a robot. You can’t really move your neck.”
Rosenquist — who goes by Andi — is a senior voice major at Howard Payne University. Rosenquist plays Sister Mary Leo, one of four nuns in the cast.
It took a while to learn to wear the nun’s habit, Rosenquist said.
“Oh absolutely,” Rosenquist said. “We had to write out a step-by-step on how to get it all on and how to make sure it was all situated correctly.”
The show is directed by Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, who also plays the role of Sister Mary Paul. Humfeld’s somewhat daft but delightful character is also known as Sister Amnesia because she once lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head — hence the full title of the show, “Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree.”
In addition to Rosenquist and Humfeld, the other nuns are played by Jill Evans (Sister Robert Anne) and Dr. Kris Henry (Sister Mary Wilhelm). HPU music professor Dr. Greg Church, who plays Father Virgil Manly Trott, is the only male cast member.
“Nunsense Jamboree” is the third installment from the “Nunsense” series. According to the website The Guide to Musical Theatre:
In the original “Nunsense,” Sister Amnesia finally realized she was Sister Mary Paul, a nun who had always wanted to be a country singer.
In “Nunsense 2,” the Reverend Mother secured a recording contract for Sister Mary Paul, still known as Sister Amnesia, who has made her first album and is on a tour promoting her new recording.
In “Nunsense Jamboree,” she is touring with the other three sisters and the father.
The show doesn’t have a heavy plot, but is “hilarious. It is an over-the-top comedy,” Humfeld said in an earlier interview.
The four sisters and the father move with seeming ease through their fast-paced roles, singing soaring harmonies and delivering nifty footwork to the sounds of a live five-piece band. The cast members appear to have fun delivering one-liners and witty dialogue, and are clearly fond of the characters they’re portraying.
“It’s definitely a comedy,” Rosenquist said. “It has some soft spots though. When Sister Amnesia finally gets her deal to go out and sing, she realizes she’s going to miss us and miss me getting my black veil, which is a big deal to me.”
Rosenquist is the only nun in the cast with a white veil, which signifies she is a novice. A black veil would signify she is a full-fledged member of the order.
“Before she came to the convent, she had a dream to be a ballerina,” Rosenquist said of Sister Mary Leo. “So she’s kind of pursuing that throughout the entire show. And she is the only one with a white veil. She’s soon to get her black veil.”
Rosenquist grew up in Florida and moved to Round Rock at age 16, where she graduated from high school. She came to Brownwood, where she has family, at age 18 to attend HPU.
“Nunsense Jamboree” is Rosenquist’s second Lyric production. Her first was “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
As Sister Mary Leo, Rosenquist portrays the biological sister of Church’s Father Virgil Manly Trotter.
“I get to be my professor’s sister,” Rosenquist said.
“Yeah that’s a little weird,” Church said. “I’m her voice professor at Howard Payne. I’ve worked with Andi now in a couple of different capacities. I’ve been her conductor in a couple of different things. I was her stage director for a couple of shows and now we’re on stage together.
“I think we’ve pretty well run the gamut now. That’s been kind of fun. It’s been a lot of fun to get to know Andi on a much different level. When I’m on stage relating to her, I’m just Virgil and she’s Ronny Jo. Because her real name before she became a nun was Ronny Jo. On stage I totally see her as my kid sister. When we hit the stage we’re equals. We’re partners.”
When Rosenquist was asked if it’s intimidating to be on stage with her professor, Church intercepted that question.
“Not any more!” Church said. “Maybe the first semester she was here she might have been a little intimidated but then she got to know me.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” Rosenquist said.
Church added, “we really are having a good time with this. It’s a lot of fun.”
Show times at the Lyric are:
• 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21
• 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22
• 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22
• 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23
• 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28
• 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28
• 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29
• 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 1
Tickets are available at the Lyric Theatre website, www.brownwoodlyrictheatre.com.