‘Nuncrackers’ presents an unusual Christmas plot


“Nuncrackers” tells the story of non-conventional nuns from Hoboken who attempt to create a Christmas TV special that ends in comedic chaos.

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From the nuns of Hoboken comes a Christmas show with not-so-typical carols, a rum-induced cooking segment and a mildly creepy nun puppet.

Pullman Civic Theatre (PCT) presents “Nuncrackers,” a musical holiday spinoff of “Nunsense.” In this show, the Little Sisters of Hoboken attempt to put together their first-ever Christmas special, and everything that could go wrong does in a comedic fashion.

“It’s more on the funny side,” director Gary Thoren said. “There is a little heartwarming but mainly funny. You could be five or 95 and enjoy this play.”

“Nuncrackers” sets itself up as a true Christmas TV special, and the actors often interact with their “studio” audience.

These aren’t typical nuns: one is a trickster from Brooklyn, another named Amnesia constantly mixes up words like “Ball Breaker” instead of “Nutcracker” and the Mother Superior was in the circus. All of the “holy” people are guilty of some blasphemy during the show.

“The absurdity is part of what attracts me to a show,” Thoren said. “It’s one of those (shows) where you have to take all your typical ideas of what you do in theater, leave it aside, go up there and think about having fun.”

Char Fluster plays the enthusiastic Brooklyn-born Sister Robert Anne. Fluster said the music and fun of the show drew her to perform, and the play captures the spirit of the season without being “too syrupy.”

In the vast collection of holiday plays and movies out there, what helps define “Nuncrackers” as a Christmas show is the music. There won’t be any typical carols. Instead, the audience can expect “Santa Ain’t Comin’ to Our House,” “We Three Kinds of Orient Are Us” and a mashup of Christmas carols, featuring lines and titles from 25 holiday songs.

“The music is really funny and really well done,” musical director Chloe Haagen said. “There’s some jokes in it. The kids come onstage singing carols that Sister Amnesia has taught them the words incorrectly.”

Thoren said what makes a holiday show is the inclusion of heartwarming themes of family. Despite the craziness and some light disasters, the characters give off a feeling of family and belonging. Haagen said the music is heartwarming and humorous, and the audience will laugh and be moved.

“There’s one song that’s called ‘Join the Convent’ that, at one point, relies on part of this to be rapped,” Thoren said. “Watching a nun rapping will (hold) a special place in my heart forever.”

Beyond rapping, there are songs that include a country beat and a Brooklyn ballad backed up with “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.” This show is Haagen’s first experience with musical directing, having done vocal work and musical theater since high school. Within the cast is a mix of choir and musical theater talent.

“It was really gratifying to see the show develop over the months that we rehearsed,” Haagen said.

“Nuncrackers” will show at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 – 10 and 2 p.m. on Dec 11 at Pullman Civic Theatre. Tickets are $15 for evening shows and $12 for matinee ($12 and $10, respectively, if ordered in advance).