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Singing, dancing and nun puppets

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It's got dancing nuns, audience interaction and a singing hand puppet named Sister Mary Annette.

In other words, Rosemount High School's production of Nunsense: The Mega Musical is about as far as you can get from Jekyll and Hyde, the serious, technical production students put on last year. And this is a story that starts with the mass death of nearly an entire convent of nuns.

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The RHS production of Nunsense is a kind of supersized version of the popular musical that has played across the country and spawned a sequel as well as ballet, Vegas review and all-male versions, among others. The show has been rewritten to include 13 new roles.

The story starts with nearly all of the nuns at the Little Sisters of Hoboken dying as the result of an unfortunate cooking accident. Before the final four nuns can be laid to rest, however, Reverend Mother Superior buys a plasma television for the convent, spending the money that was supposed to cover burial costs. So, the nuns stay in the convent's freezer while, in an attempt to pay the bills, the remaining nuns put on a singing, dancing fundraiser that, with a few interruptions and tangents, makes up the bulk of the show.

RHS costume designers reached out to Sister Annette Reedy of St. Joseph's Catholic Church to get the details of the students' habits right.

Co-director Thomas Hoffman said he liked the idea of doing a lighthearted musical this year after taking on the challenge of Jekyll and Hyde last year. He also liked the idea of a show that featured a lot of roles for girls. While there are roles for boys in Nunsense - including one as Sister Julia, Child of God, the convent cook - it's the girls who take center stage.

Hoffman said RHS has the talented female performers this year to pull the show off.

"We have some young ladies in the junior and senior class and it was like, is there something there?" Hoffman said. "There's a ton of musicals that feature the guys."

The RHS performance of Nunsense actually starts before the audience ever reaches their seats. Cast members will be in the Performing Arts Center lobby, in character, to greet people as they arrive. Each character has a back story and performers will be able to explain why they joined the convent.

The audience interaction doesn't stop in the lobby, either. The show also features a quiz that will draw the audience into the show and send one of the actors into the crowd.

Add in an amnesiac nun, the fan-dancing Mother Superior and the big tap number the closes the first act, and it can all get a little bit silly at times. But then, that's kind of the point.

"We're having a blast with it," Hoffman said.

Tickets for this weekend's performances of Nunsense are available at the door, by calling 651-683-6969 Ext. 37540 or online.

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