KENDALLVILLE – Retired theater educator Craig Munk is about to reach a goal he had 40 years of preparation for.
This weekend, Gaslight Playhouse – the community theater organization he founded in 1975 – will present the musical “Nunsense” as his first production in his permanent home in the historic auditorium of the Community Learning Center.
Curtain up on the show Friday at 7:30 p.m. with additional performances Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets for reserved seats cost $ 15 per person and $ 12 per person for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at www.gaslightplayhouse.org with a card.
Tickets can also be purchased at the CLC box office or at the door before performances in cash or by check. Gaslight Playhouse cannot accept PayPal or Venmo and does not have the ability to swipe cards at the door.
The Gaslight Playhouse board of directors has chosen “Nunsense” for its first production in its new home, betting audiences crave quality entertainment as pandemic restrictions loosen.
“The call is the idea of a night out for sheer fun,” Munk said. “This is musical comedy at its best. It’s purely fun and doesn’t have a heavy message. It’s pure Broadway entertainment.
“Nunsense” is a complete moment for Munk, who came out of retirement to lead this show on the very stage where he began his career. He has already made “Nunsense” once.
“I am delighted to be back here after 40 years,” he said. “The last show I did here was ‘The Wiz’ in 1981. I’m honored and grateful to be back. I’m so glad the 1940 stage was saved.
“Nunsense” is an off-Broadway musical about the Little Sisters of Hoboken, a former missionary order that ran a leper colony on an island in southern France. The cook, Sister Julia, child of God, accidentally killed 52 residents of the convent with a tainted Vichyssoise, but there is no money to bury the last four nuns.
With the deceased nuns kept in the freezer, five of the 19 surviving nuns decide to hold a benefit variety show in the auditorium of Mount Saint Helen School to raise the necessary funds.
The musical features solo star tricks, crazy dance routines, and an interactive quiz with the audience.
Cast members include Jennifer Strong as Sister Mary Regina, Abby Cole as Sister Mary Hubert, Renee Engle as Sister Mary Robert Anne, Cathie Kreigh as Sister Mary Amnesia and Naomi Schroeder. Creigh is also the musical director of the production.
Munk describes himself as a visual director, seeing the last look of the series in his mind.
“This is my lighthouse,” he said. “I see the costumes, what the set looks like.”
“Nunsense” will also take advantage of advanced technology in the auditorium. The backgrounds of the scenes will be projected onto the new, extra large LED screen at the back of the stage. Scenes can be changed with a computer click.
Munk has spent many years working with students, but said working with adults in a community theater environment is different. The cast and crew must engage in nightly rehearsals for weeks to bring a production to the stage.
“The challenge of working with adults is their busy schedule,” he said. “One of the ‘nuns’ has seven children. Once you’ve committed to something, you have to go through with it.
Munk’s vision for Gaslight Playhouse is also coming to fruition with the organization’s permanent residence at CLC.
“My vision is a full season of shows,” Munk said. “And subscriptions. We used to do three shows a summer.
Munk is grateful for the opportunity his vagrant organization now has to take root and sustain itself in the future, taking live theater to a new level in the community. Gaslight Playhouse has roamed from place to place for shows over its 45 year history.
“I’m so glad the 1940 stage was saved,” he said. “I am so grateful that there are people from the community on board to save this building. Gaslight has a real home.