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'Late Nite Catechism' just keeps going and going

January 14, 2005

TOM TITUS

Much like the Energizer bunny, "Late Nite Catechism" just keeps going

and going at the Laguna Playhouse on Monday nights.

Playhouse executive director Richard Stein has announced yet

another holdover -- the 12th to date -- of the one-nun stand-up

comedy production, which has held forth at the theater since July 21,

2003. The current "closing date" now is listed as March 14.

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For those of you keeping score, the popular interactive theater

presentation has played 58 times since then and has been seen by more

than 19,000 theatergoers -- many of them undoubtedly coming back for

seconds, or thirds.

What's the secret of this in-your-face show described by a Los

Angeles Times critic as "Don Rickles in a habit"? It's simply a

screamingly funny production, aimed at playgoers with not-so-fond

memories of parochial school, although non-Catholics are laughing

just as hard.

Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan created this unique entertainment

-- which consists of a nun (the role may be played by one of them or

any one of several other actresses) giving instruction to a roomful

of "students" (the audience).

Throughout the course of the class, Sister will reward her pupils

for correct answers with glow-in-the-dark rosaries and other nifty

prizes. But woe betide those "students" who get on Sister's bad --

they may find themselves on state, sitting a corner and reflecting on

their actions.

Donovan, who opened the Laguna production in 2003, originated the

role of Sister and currently is on an international tour with the

show.

As a child, she owned a pint-sized nun's habit which she wore for

Halloween -- little knowing how it would affect her life's work. She

later worked in Chicago theater for over 20 years before aligning

with Quade to create "Late Nite Catechism."

Quade wrote and produced the original show in Chicago. She and

Donovan operate their own production company, and she's been

nominated for a Los Angeles Critics' Circle award for "Late Nite

Catechism," as was Donovan in the "outstanding solo performance"

category.

At the close of each show, Sister solicits donations from the

audience for a home for retired nuns who require financial support.

The show also has accepted donations for the Twin Towers Fund in New

York City, ever since Sept. 11. More than $10,000 has been raised for

this charity.

Fund-raising groups around the country have booked "Late Nite

Catechism," including the Huntington Beach Playhouse. Organizations

interested in a visit from Sister should call (877) FUNNY-NUN.

Those who haven't yet caught "Late Nite Catechism" in its first

year and a half at the playhouse may do so this Monday, or on

succeeding Mondays -- Jan. 24, Feb. 21 and 28, and March 7 and 14.

And who knows how many times after that, the way the show is being

received.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. and all tickets are $35. You can call the

rectory -- ah, the playhouse -- at (949) 497-2787 for more

information.

* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for The Coastline Pilot.

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