Nuns, youth to sing humorous versions of Christmas tunes

Giving a new meaning to the idea of “holy holidays,” everybody’s favorite wise-cracking nuns are back in Hillsboro for Christmas. And tickets are already going faster than communion wafers at a candlelight service.

This time, the little Sisters from Hoboken, N.J. are up to their usual “nunsense,” hosting a cable-access TV studio built in their convent basement with plans to go on air for the first time over the holidays.

But this year’s shows at Hillsboro Artists’ Repertory Theatre will include a more serious twist: the chance to donate to help residents living in the real Hoboken and still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

A sequel to writer Dan Goggin’s original “Nunsense,” “Nuncrackers” is the fourth play in a series of six.

“It’s like Wayne’s World, only with nuns,” said director Butch Vandehey.

Loaded with slapstick nun humor, classic holiday tunes and a “Secret Santa” audience participation, HART opens “Nuncrackers” this weekend.

The Christmas comedy stars some returning nun veterans, including Vandehey (who plays the nuns’ TV director and camera man), Jeanine Stassens, Jennifer Yamashiro and Wendy Bax, as well as a few new faces, such as a seven-member youth choir.

The youth will perform the show’s humorous versions of traditional Christmas songs, such as, “Twelve Days Prior to Christmas,” “Santa Ain’t Comin’ to Our House,” “We Three Kinds of Orient Are Us” and “It’s Better to Give than to Receive.”

“It’s not brain surgery and we’re not going to move anybody to tears, but it is a lot of fun,” said Vandehey, who acted in HART’s first two installations of Goggin’s nun-themed plays and is replacing former directors Ken and Pruella Centers for this show. It’s Vandehey’s first experience directing at HART.

As in previous years, Sisters of St. Mary’s in Beaverton invites the entire HART cast to the convent for a friendly luncheon. In return, HART saves seats for the Sisters to enjoy a night of hilarious self-deprecation.

That night of sisterhood is Vandehey’s favorite part of the performance run. “They just get such a kick out of it,” he said. “They’re funny people — they are just regular people with a love of the Lord.”

Last year, HART’s production of “Nunsensations” sold out for its Halloween showing. This year, a few of the new shows have already sold out, Vandehey said.

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