All of the faces in the five-member cast of Meshuggah-Nuns, now playing at Hedgerow Theatre through January 27, should be familiar to frequent patrons at Hedgerow or other local stages. Micki Sharpe, Heidi Starr and Susan Wefel have appeared in both Nunsense and Nuncrackers at the theatre, and Sharpe did a solo turn last year in Sister Robert Ann's Cabaret Class. They're joined by Connie Norwood and Tom Teti, who are new to the Nunsense series, but not to Hedgerow.
Both Norwood and Teti have, in fact, a long association with the theatre. Both studied acting at the Hedgerow Theatre School with its founder Rose Schulman, who passed away in 1989. Norwood appeared on stage there in John Brown's Body last spring, and directed the acclaimed Looking Over the President's Shoulder in 2009. Teti teaches acting to both adults and teens at the theatre and performed last spring in the production of 'Art.'
In Dan Goggin's musical sequel, Norwood plays the Mother Superior, who's off on a "Faith of All Nations" cruise with the other sisters. Teti is Howard Liszt, the actor who plays Tevye in the shipboard entertainment Fiddler on the Roof. When everyone in the cast except Howard is stricken with seasickness, the nuns are called on to help him put on the show, adapting it to suit their inimitable style.
"I'm tickled pink to be here," remarked Norwood. "I love coming to Hedgerow, and singing and dancing again takes me back to the my early days in the theatre. The first show I ever did was Bye Bye Birdie, and I did only musicals for the first 12 years of my career." She feels her character is quite different from her real-life personality. "In some people's eyes, I'm a little like a Mother Superior when I direct," she laughed, "but I'm normally not that stern. She has to always be in control, but she has a liveliness that comes out now and then."
Teti is having fun being the only male in the ensemble, describing that as "one of the real perks" of the role. "I was familiar with all of the actresses' work," he explained, "and I feel lucky to be performing with them. The only challenge was the non-stop singing and dancing it requires. I've done musicals before, but I joined the cast after the ladies had been rehearsing for a week or so, and it was daunting." He feels that the ecumenical theme of the play is also important. "There's so much call for interfaith dialogue," Teti said, "and this seemingly silly piece communicates that message in a fun way."
Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. There is also a matinee at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9, which includes a complimentary tea.
Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows are $32, Thursday shows are $29, and Wednesday matinees are $25. There is a $3 discount for seniors; tickets for students with valid ID and children under 18 are $10. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for seniors. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations, call 610-565-4211, or visit www.hedgerowtheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre, America's First Repertory Theatre, is at 64 Rose Valley Road, in Rose Valley (near Media).
Pictured: Tom Teti and Connie Norwood