Friday evening I saw the legendary and ambrosial Charles Busch in the uproarious Off-Broadway confection, “The Divine Sister“, also written by Mr. Busch. This was my second visit to St. Veronica’s, the convent in which Mother Superior (Busch) and Sister Acacius (played by the always-inspiring and hysterical Julie Halston) reside. Possibly the best-written and performed play currently Off-Broadway (and Broadway, come to think of it), “The Divine Sister” will make you laugh until all demons within are spewn-out onto the streets of New York City, or more specifically 15 Vandam Street where the show is playing until May 1 at the Soho Playhouse). The other cast members are celestial as well: Amy Rutberg who is giddily-glorious as Agnes (the young postulant who has healing powers and sees visions), Jonathan Walker (who does a surprisingly accurate impersonation of fellow castmember Julie Halston…you just gotta see it to know what I’m talkin’ about) in the dual-roles of Jeremy & Brother Venerius, Jennifer Van Dyck (who I have adored since her stint on “The Days & Nights of Molly Dodd” and who is transcendent in dual-roles as Mrs. Levinson & Timothy), and the immaculately marvelous Alison Fraser as both Sister Walburga (wait til you hear that dialect!) and Mrs. Macduffie (come to think of it, wait til you hear THAT dialect too…Ms. Fraser’s performance is truly heavenly.) How about that for a run-on sentence!
Here is how “The Divine Sister” is described in the press release:
“The Divine Sister is an outrageous comic homage to nearly every Hollywood film involving nuns. Evoking such films as ‘The Song of Bernadette,’ ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s,’ ‘The Singing Nun’ and ‘Agnes of God,’ The Divine Sister tells the story of St. Veronica’s indomitable Mother Superior (author Charles Busch) who is determined to build a new school for her Pittsburgh convent. Along the way, she has to deal with a young postulant who is experiencing ‘visions,’ sexual hysteria among her nuns, a sensitive schoolboy in need of mentoring, a mysterious nun visiting from the Mother House in Berlin, and a former suitor intent on luring her away from her vows.” It’s a “madcap trip through Hollywood religiosity” that “evokes the wildly comic but affectionately observed theatrical style of the creator of Die, Mommie, Die! and Psycho Beach Party.”
Charles Busch is equally masterful in his humorous yet moving post-show Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS speech, which as you know, makes one want to contribute even more to this worthy cause (as well as the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic which the donations also support).
The (holy) spirit of the show SO moved me that immediately afterwards I found myself in the Gramercy Park area at a church auditorium school dance (FOR REAL! Don’t ask.).
However, when it was discovered that I BYOB’d with a different kind of Busch for the aforementioned dance number, I quickly hightailed it out of there and skipped back to the streets of NYC where I feel most comfortable (or at least I keep telling myself that as I am 4 months behind on my rent and anticipate a happy future with all the urchins of the street who I know will welcome me with open arms and possibly even open cans of half-eaten tuna. How’s THAT for another run-on sentence!) But, lest I digress, “The Divine Sister” is truly one to check out and I URGE you to see it before it closes or you find yourself homeless, whichever comes first.