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‘Nuncrackers’ brings winter to CdA stage

Tamara Schupman, left, and Kathie Doyle Lipe star in Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s production of “Nuncrackers.” (Colin Mulvany)
Tamara Schupman, left, and Kathie Doyle Lipe star in Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s production of “Nuncrackers.” (Colin Mulvany)

Please ignore the word “summer” in Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre – the region’s best-known professional summer theater is branching out into winter.

For the first time, the CdA Summer Theatre is producing a full-fledged Christmas musical. This season’s choice: “Nuncrackers,” the holiday musical-comedy featuring those fun-loving Little Sisters of Hoboken.

You know, the ones of “Nunsense” fame.

Artistic director Roger Welch said the theater is doing a Christmas show for two reasons. First, the theater drew large and happy audiences last year when it tested the December waters with an in-concert version of “White Christmas.”

Also Welch realized he had an ideal “Nuncrackers” cast, ready and waiting.

“That’s why I picked this show, because I know I could get these ladies involved,” he said.

The ladies are all local: Kathie Doyle-Lipe, Tamara Schupman, Krista Kubicek and Julie Powell. The CdA Summer Theatre normally auditions all over the country, but these four are among the “handful of really talented local people” routinely cast by Welch.

This is an especially noteworthy production for Doyle-Lipe, who has played every sister except the Mother Superior.

Until now.

Welch said she’s ideal as the Mother Superior, aka the Rev. Mother Mary Regina.

“She’s a comic genius – a very good comedian,” he said. “Also, her physicality and her dance ability make her great for the part. There’s a lot of physical humor in this show.”

“Nuncrackers” also includes a pair of male roles. Andrew Ware Lewis plays Father Virgil, who is forced to substitute for Sister Leo in an ill-fated cable-access version of the “Nutcracker Ballet.” Jack Bannon does a cameo appearance as the ballet’s narrator.

Anyone familiar with Dan Goggins’ enormously popular “Nunsense” franchise knows what to expect: plenty of slapstick, some (mild) irreverence and a lot of puns involving habits and wimples.

And, as usual, all four sisters get to show off their musical-comedy chops in at least one big number.

Sample song title: “We Three Kings of Orient Are Us.”

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