What a Load of


by Ian Nathaniel


Sister Mary ReginaSister Mary HubertSister Robert AnneSister Mary AmnesiaSister Mary Leo

I don’t know about you, but in my family, “nonsense” is playfully pronounced as “nunsense”, so I guess that still does make sense here. ‘Nunsense’ is back for its second installation after a sold out run in 2001, with new additions to its script, localized jokes, and a whole lot more of awesome.


Director, Richard Gardner

Winner of the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Music, and Best Off-Broadway Musical, ‘Nunsense’ was the second longest-running off-Broadway show when it closed after a 10-year run. Since its debut in 1985, the show has been translated into 21 languages and over 5,000 productions have been mounted worldwide.

It is a story of 5 nuns working together to organize a fundraiser after their cook, Sister Julia, Child of God, accidentally poisoned 52 of their sisters. They’re in dire need of the funds for the burials. And because they’re trying to “save money”, the set will be taken from Gardner & Wife’s previous production – ‘The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark’. “The set will have a very jungle-ish feeling,” said Richard Gardner, Director of ‘Nunsense’.

Gardner & Wife Theatre presents Dan Goggin’s ‘Nunsense’ in celebration of the musical’s 30th Anniversary. Directed by Richard Harding Gardner, with musical direction by Llew Marsh, and choreography by Joseph Gonzales, this revival will feature a star cast consisting of veterans and upcoming talents in the roles of comical nuns.

‘Nunsense’ stars Shanthini Venugopal, reprising her role from 2001 as ‘Reverend Mother Mary Regina’, Elvira Arul, as ‘Sister Mary Hubert’, Junji Delfino, as ‘Sister Mary Amnesia’, Nicole-Ann Thomas, as ‘Sister Robert Anne’, and Teresa Goh, as ‘Sister Mary Leo’.

Shanthini Venugopal is no stranger to the theatre scene. She’s had a role in a Hollywood movie “Anna and the King” in 1999 alongside Jodie Foster, Chow Yuen Fatt, Tom Felton, and many more. Shanthini reprises her role as the ‘Revered Mother Mary Regina’, the nun who heads the group in the fundraiser. No, not the “On Wednesdays we wear pink” kind of Regina; but wouldn’t that be interesting.


In an interview, Llew Marsh, musical director, mentioned that the cast went for the audition and the production team immediately knew whom they wanted. They were keen on having Elvira Arul, who’s out there in the music and theatre scene, as ‘Sister Mary Hubert’ because Elvira possesses what is called “powerhouse vocals,” which plays a big part when performing songs like ‘Holier Than Thou’, which we got to enjoy at the press conference.

Touted as Malaysia’s First Lady of Jazz, Junji Delfino plays a nun who has lost her memory because a crucifix fell on her head. “Playing this character feels very at home. I constantly forget everything anyway. I have a lot of fun playing this interesting character.” Based on the short snippet we got to enjoy, Junji definitely, without a doubt, personified Sister Mary Amnesia flawlessly with the always “blur” face and even purposely messing up the choreography sometimes (isn’t she lucky or what!)


Nicole-Ann Thomas, not only an actor but also a director who has recently directed Bare Beckett (short plays written by iconic playwright Samuel Beckett), makes her appearance as ‘Sister Robert Anne’, the child of a disadvantaged family in Sentul. When she watched Nunsense back in 2001, she vowed to be in a show like this; so when auditions opened, she quickly registered herself.

Last but certainly not least, Teresa Goh, who embodies the ballerina ‘Sister Mary Leo’, a sister who’s fresh in the nun world and is rumoured to have gotten her name from the famous “leotard.” Teresa Goh tells us that she gets to be young and carefree while playing the character. Everyone unanimously agrees that she’s the only young one while bursting out in sudden reality check laughter!

“It’s fun to play the characters if we remember our lines,” says Shanthini, who adds, “Every character is very distinct, they have their own traits and personalities. But even with all their differences, they still compliment each other.”

As musical director, Llew stresses the importance of the energies brought by the actor to the character. Llew and Richard agree that each actor translates their character into a memorable one. With only five people being onstage, we can see how much Redbull the cast must chug before each show to maintain their energy levels.

Musical Director, Llew Marsh

Musical Director, Llew Marsh.

We asked the team, what does ‘Nunsense’ teach us? Is there something that we can take away from the play? Richard instantly said, “Love. There’s love written all over it. Love is the underlining bedrock of the show.”

In the previous debut of ‘Nunsense’ in 2001, the production dropped one song and one ventriloquism (wait, what!) scene. This time, because the “Sisters” have evolved, the show will consist of everything New York offered.

This vaudeville show will include musical styles from various spectrums such as country, cabaret, typical broadway, show girl, hymnal, etc. Richard Gardner said, “When a show runs for a long time, it has to run for something!” Based on the preview that we got to watch, we couldn’t agree more!

There’s a bit of a commotion about the ‘Nunsense’ posters, which to us, is completely horse balls, but let’s not get into that. Maybe we’ll write a “How to NOT Be a/an <insert favourite derogatory noun here> to Productions 101” article.

But in the meantime, catch ‘Nunsense’ and all the “nonsense” it holds. It was sold out 15 years ago, it’s gonna sell out now, so hurry and grab your tickets right away!



*only applicable for weekday shows


PJ Live Arts @ Jaya One


13th July – 7th August 2016


8.30pm (Wednesday – Friday)

3pm & 8.30pm (Saturday)

3pm & 7pm (Sunday)

Box Office:

Purchase here!

Performing Arts Centre of Penang


27th – 31st July*


8.30pm (Wednesday – Friday)

3pm & 8.30pm (Saturday)

3pm & 7pm (Sunday)

Box Office:

Purchase here!

*exact dates & times subject to change or cancel without prior notice. Contact box office for more information

Ticket Prices


Economy @ RM88

Premium @ RM 108

VIP @ RM 128

Group (6 pax):

Premium @ RM 588

VIP @ RM 688

(subject to 6% GST)


The Cast of ‘Nunsense’ with Gardner & Wife.