Lighthearted musical comedy kicks off season

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Nothing went according to plan.

All the male actors dropped out of the production of "Chicago" at the last minute.

What: "Nunsense"

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School auditorium

Cost: $10; tickets are available in Colorado Mountain College's Bristol Hall, All That Jazz or at the door

Stuart Handloff, directing the first full-length play at Colorado Mountain College, was left with a cast of six women.

No matter how many mustaches you tape onto female faces, "Chicago" is a nearly impossible play to put on with such a small cast.

"There was tears and crying, but we decided to choose another play," Handloff said. They chose "Nunsense" because of all female cast.

Handloff didn't even have a copy of the script at the time. He had only the soundtrack. They picked the play Tuesday and started rehearsal Thursday.

Until now, the college has offered acting classes, but the drama department has never put on plays. Handloff spread the word that he was planning to direct two productions a year through the school. He hung fliers at the college, put ads in the paper and spread the word among students who had worked with him when he was the drama instructor at Steamboat Springs High School.

Michelle Hess, the music teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary School, cleared her schedule and finished her lesson plans two months in advance so she could be a part of the production. When the vehicle changed from "Chicago" to "Nunsense," she didn't bat an eyelash.

"I didn't care, I just want to do musical theater," she said. Hess is playing the part of Sister Mary Regina, the spotlight-loving Mother Superior.

"Nunsense" is a lighthearted musical comedy about a group of nuns who perform a musical variety show.

Although it is the first production by the college, only one college student is in the cast -- Molly Handley who plays Sister Mary Hubert. Handley's character leads the group in a tap dance number. Handley had never tap danced before the first day of rehearsals. She learned.

People who regularly attend local theater productions will recognize Jessi Houston, a senior at Christian Heritage School who played Little Red Riding Hood in "Into the Woods"; Emily Stout, a freshman at Steamboat Springs High School, who played Annie in "Annie"; Erin Lewis and Emily Stockdale, a sophomore and a junior at the high school, who both were doo-wop girls in "Little Shop of Horrors."

Since the original script for "Nunsense" only has five parts, the group had to create a part for Lewis. She plays Sister Mary Annette (read marionette). In the original production, Mary Annette is a literal puppet. Now, Lewis plays the part of a puppet.

In the end, having a small cast was a benefit to the production, Handloff said. "They really work together and that's what theater is all about at this age -- learning what collaboration, responsibility and commitment means.

"The smaller the cast, the larger the lesson. You can't hide in a cast of six. You have to do your part."

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