Arts and Entertainment

Fun with a nun: Centerstage presents Late Nite Catechism

Nonie Newton-Breen stars in “Late Nite Catechism,” which runs Sept. 23 through Oct. 9 at the Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road.  - PHOTO BY ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS INC.
Nonie Newton-Breen stars in “Late Nite Catechism,” which runs Sept. 23 through Oct. 9 at the Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road.
— image credit: PHOTO BY ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS INC.

Courtesy of Alan Bryce

Late Nite Catechism is the kind of title that sends an intelligent person running. "Oh, no. Not another show about Catholic nuns. Please. Whoopi was enough."

Don’t run too fast. Yes, Late Nite Catechism is a religious comedy. Yes, it features a woman dressed in a black habit. And, yes, just like Sister Mary Ignatius, she explains Catholicism to the unindoctrinated. But the similarities stop there. Late Nite Catechism is refreshingly different.

For starters, playwrights Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan have a deep, nostalgic respect for their subject. It’s not the blind respect of a child who’s never thought about religion. It’s a mature respect born out of diligent scholarship and a bit of reflection. Quade says: "I grew up thinking the nuns were the product of a dangerous liaison between humans and angels. Later, when four nuns picked me up while I was waiting for a late night bus, I knew they were OK."

The scene is an adult catechism class in Chicago, 1993. Sister is filling in for Father Murphy, who doesn’t want to miss his poker night, and she’s going to teach the class the way she wants. She informs us that she started teaching when it was a wonderful time to be a nun, back in the heyday of the Catholic church. She had 52 kids in her first class, she says, "who all knew they were better than the kids who went to public school." She goes on to weave stories, old jokes and pre-Vatican II dogma into hilariously funny tapestry of Catholic culture.

Sister reads a letter to Father Murphy from Antonio Cardinal Magiaracina, requesting that his parish aid the Vatican in reviewing and rewriting the official list of more than 75,000 saints. "Some might be fictionalized," the letter states, "and need to be reviewed. Times are tough," says Sister, shaking her head. "Churches are closing. Saints are getting laid off."

Late Nite Catechism is the longest-running show in Seattle history and still plays to packed houses all over the country. Advance sales at the Knutzen Family Theatre suggest that there will be more of the same in Federal Way.

Check it out

Late Nite Catechism runs Sept. 23 through Oct. 9 at the Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road. Tickets are available at (253) 661-1444 or www.centerstagetheatre.com.

 

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