Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell

BAD HABITS (Santa Monica)

Having spent ten years living among nuns in a British Catholic Boarding School I must admit none of them had such bad habits as these Sisters of St. Cyril. This bevy of virgins often curse like truck drivers, make snide comments about their young school charges, have a drinking problem, and in general behave more like Hollywood tarts than the nuns I knew. But, as my friend director Fran Freedman quipped, “Morna, perhaps you should have recused yourself!”

Yes, the audience clearly loved it, especially when they were drawn into the action as stand-ins for little kids in school. The cast, even though all in imminent danger of excommunication, were excellent. Even Orson Bean, as the shrewd local Bishop, entertained delightfully with jokes that were perhaps rather risqué for a man of the cloth.

Alley Mills was the humanistic Mother Superior over Sisters’ Mouchette van Helsdingen, Jacquelynne Fontaine, Lee Garlington and Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield (who I wish could have finished her soaring solo that threatened to bring down the house). Kelsey Griswold dazzled as the mysterious visitor and Jennifer Sagiao was a formidable secretary and deft furniture mover.

Humorist Playwright Steve Mazur claims to be “the proud product of a parochial school education” and I suspect he got caned on his knuckles quite a few times. Director Mike Reilly says, “This is, ultimately, a life affirming, joyful play” and he certainly brought it to life for the matinee audience.

Imaginative set by Brad Bentz was perfect framing for Michael Mullen’s elegant traditional nun’s costumes.

At Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Ave, Santa Monica. Tkts: (310) 397-3244 or Free parking.

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