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My Chat with THEE Danny Goggin…

July 5, 2013

Hello! It’s been awhile, I know… We just had a ridiculous past few weeks here at my theatre company where we turned 2 shows around in less than a month, and then much needed vacation time. Please forgive my absence!

Back on track.. I wanted to share something really cool with you all! So one of the many many hats I wear here at the theatre is the social media coordinator hat. May’s show was Nunsensations: The Nunsense Las Vegas Revue, and between pitching in to help glitz and glamour up some pretty intense feather fans and head dresses, I had the amazing opportunity to chat with the one and only Daniel Goggin, the genius behind Nunsense. Not only was it great press for the show, but it was kind of a dream come true for me since I had the honor of playing Reverend Mother Superior as a Junior in High School (*cough cough* Character Actor in the making *cough cough*). It turns out that our Artistic Director used to live in the same apartment building as Danny in Manhattan “back in the day,” and they have remained in touch! I hope you enjoy the article, and check back for some more chatter from my end! I have some more stories to tell, I promise!

A Conversation with Danny Goggin

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with the mastermind behind Nunsense and it’s eight sequels, Danny Goggin. C-R Productions is of course in the middle of its run of Nunsensations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue,[which resumes performances Thursday and runs through Sunday], so it was great to talk with Danny about the beginnings of Nunsense and how the nuns have evolved through the sequels. Nunsense also holds a place in my heart because Reverend Mother Superior was one of my first leads back in my Catholic High School theatre days, so it was an awesome moment to get the chance to talk with the writer, composer, and creator. Here are some highlights from our conversation:
Marah: Could you tell me a little bit about how the Nunsense story began, the characters, and how you brought them all to life?
Mr. Danny Goggin: Well originally a friend of mine gave me a mannequin dressed as a Dominican nun when the nuns started to modernize the habit, and we made a greeting card of her—it was supposed to be a joke—and people thought it was so funny that then I thought well maybe we could bring this character to life. And so it ended up starting in 1983 just as a cabaret show in the Duplex which was a cabaret stage in Greenwich Village, and that’s where it kind of took off. And at the time when we first opened it the characters were more or less doing songs and sketches but not anything about themselves, so when we wanted to move it off-Broadway, then producers said well you know it’s just a revue at this point, it has no story you have no characters, so I started to figure out the personalities of the nuns. And I based them on Five Nuns who taught me in school, and that’s where the personalities came from—nothing about their actual stories, but just their personalities—so that I could kind of build how they reacted to things and they were very funny. In the end when we made the first television special they all knew who they were and they considered themselves huge stars, so it was very fun.
M: And that’s what’s so interesting! That’s what people remember, you know, that’s Sister Amnesia—she’s the country star, and they affiliate the characters with their stories now. How did you come up with Sister Mary Annette because she’s always a crowd favorite, of course.
DG: When we were at the Duplex wanted to have one nun that was nasty. We didn’t really want a real nun, the other thing was that we couldn’t afford a real nun—an extra cast member. And, a lot of people say, “Oh well that’s Sister Amnesia’s alter-ego,” And I said, “No it isn’t! It’s just another character and we couldn’t afford another one [actor],” and when we realized we had the puppet, the puppet could be very rude and get away with it, and she always has been! Even the latest one I did, Nunset Boulevard, right up the very end the puppet is just as sassy and nasty—in fact she even was a little worse in Nunset Boulevard when she meets up with Mother Superior and said that she’s going for a screen test and she’s not gonna spend any more time in her lousy show.
M: She can say everything that the nuns can’t.
DG: Exactly! And one time there was a nun—we have nuns in the audience sometimes, and they are some of our biggest fans—but, one of them came back and said, “ Weren’t you offended by Sister Amnesia with that puppet?” And the other nun said, “Well, that was the puppet, it wasn’t her!”
M: She’s hysterical! Do you have a favorite nun?
DG: A favorite nun? Well, it’s sort of a combination. Probably my favorite nun is Sister Robert Anne because she’s so sassy. But I also like Mother Superior. I mean, all of them have their charming points that can win you over, I think, but I always enjoy writing for Robert Anne because she’s always so out of line.
M: Especially when she has her duet with Reverend Mother Superior because I think they balance each other out very well. For every bit that Reverend Mother is strict, Robert Anne is that much more loosey goosey. Do you have any fun stories about creating Nunsensations?
DG: Actually, Nunsensations is one of our favorites just because of the feathers and everything else. As the shows moved along we felt like the nuns were savvier and that they might be able to do more stuff. So that you know the dancing would be a little more and that kind of thing. We were able to make it a little more elaborate with Nunsensations. Originally it started because my agent called and they were looking for shows in Vegas and asked me to come up with a few titles if I were to write a show. But then decided they wanted the original one [Nunsense], and the original one had just closed in Vegas after running several years. So it closed three months before and it was going to reopen at another hotel. Meanwhile, I started working on Nunsensations. It was coming together and it seemed like it was so much fun, and that’s where it grew. 
M: So the show taking place in Vegas was originally written specifically for Vegas. That’s just perfect—you almost can’t make that up! Now you said Nunsensations was ONE of your favorites, but would you say that was your FAVORITE of the nine?
DG: No, my favorite one now is Nunset Boulevard. But I agree with everyone that the first one is the zaniest one, most off the wall. And I was talking to one of the bookers the other day and I said, “Nothing is ever going to be as funny as [Reverend Mother’s] RUSH scene.” You don’t even have to say well let’s try to achieve that, but if you have a good Mother Superior in that role you don’t need anything else. You don’t have to try and top anything.  [But] I think each one has its certain appeal. In fact, just the other day the choreographer was saying we need to do Nunsensations again; it’s such a fun show! 
M: Well, C-R Productions did just do SUNset Boulevard last season! I haven’t seen Nunset Boulevard but from what I’ve read, the context is hysterical. And [the RUSH scene] is my favorite scene, even if it was back in high school, if I never do any other comedic scene again, I don’t even care if I was 15 years old, that was my favorite scene to ever do in my life because it was so much fun….Now Nunset Boulevard is the latest one, are there anymore coming?
DG: I don’t think so. We are actually trying to put together a little half hour TV Variety something or other that would be a telecast from the convent’s basement, and we are just in the talking stages, but we are thinking about it. I think that may be one of the next things I might try.
Peace & Love,
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