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March 01, 1991 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ENTERTAINMENT

Jennifer Jay Myers,
center, talks to "Sister
Mary Annette'

BASIC

KENNETH JONES

Special to The Jewish News

Vir hen she first
started rehearsals
for the musical
Nunsense, actress Jennifer
Jay Myers wasn't hip to the
jokes in the show.
After all, this irreverent
revue was about the customs
of Roman Catholic nuns in a
New Jersey convent, and Ms.
Myers was raised in a Reform
Jewish household in Bloom-
field Hills.
"It's not at all weird to play
a nun, it's just that some of it
I didn't find funny," says Ms.
Myers, who plays Sister Mary
Amnesia in the current Bir-
mingham Theatre staging of
Nunsense, through March 24.
"Now I do. They explained it
all to me. But when you have
no background . . ."
Ms. Myers, daughter of Rod-

Kenneth Jones is a
Birmingham entertainment
writer and theater critic.

Catechism

What's a nice Jewish girl doing
in a play like this?
Laugh and find out.

man and Jeanette Myers of
Bloomfield Hills, is no
stranger to Dan Goggin's
popular off-Broadway hit. She
first played sister Mary
Amnesia — a nun who lost
her memory when a crucifix
fell on her head — in a 1986
Cleveland production.
Particularly unclear to Ms.
Myers during the Cleveland
show was the significance of
the tiny metal clicker that
mother superior Sister Mary
Cardelia would snap at the
audience, generating laugh-
ter and applause. In many
Catholic schools, a "cricket"
was sounded to help teach
children the basics of
genuflection.
"What's so funny?" Ms.
Myers thought at the time.
Nunsense is so popular with

Catholic audiences because it
generates a wealth of fond
and bittersweet memories of
parochial school days, says
Ms. Myers. The Catholic-
oriented musical Do Black Pa-
tent Leather Shoes Really
Reflect Up?, which Ms. Myers
has also performed in, is a
similar sentimental journey
for Catholic theatergoers —
"cricket" and all.

Non-Catholics go to
Nunsense curious to see nuns
engage in outrageous, un-
characteristic acts such as
tap-dancing, impersonations
and a crazy puppet routine in
which Ms. Myers' Sister Mary
Amnesia quarrels with a nun-
puppet named Sister Mary
Annette (get it?).
Do you have to be Catholic

to get it? Not necessarily, says
Ms. Myers.
At the opening night cast
party for the Cleveland pro-
duction, Ms. Myers was ask-
ed to say hello to a group of
ladies having dinner in an
upstairs room of the
restaurant.
"Why me?" Ms. Myers
asked.
The ladies, who had seen
the show, were from the local
Hadassah and heard Ms.
Myers was Jewish. They
wanted to meet her.
"I went upstairs and met
these nice Jewish women,"
says Ms. Myers. "They were
all at this table and said they
loved the show, and I said,
`Tell me honestly, did you get
all of the jokes?' They said,
`Oh, yes! Last year we saw Pa-

tent Leather Shoes. Now we're
educated.' "
Ms. Myers, 31, graduated in
1977 from Andover High
School, where she earned the
choicest roles in the school
musicals Annie Get Your
Gun, Brigadoon and Guys
and Dolls.
A young soprano who knew
she wanted to act and sing in
musical theater, Ms. Myers
reluctantly competed for —
and won — the Traub Scholar-
ship Award in her senior year.
The annual prize, awarded to
Andover arts students, allows
seniors to study abroad before
college.
Ms. Myers studied voice in
London that summer before
entering Northwestern
University to work toward a
voice performance degree.
Trained as a soprano, Ms.
Myers says she's also got a
"belt" voice, the kind that
sells big Broadway songs.
She has appeared in plays
and musicals throughout the
country and her program
biography points out that

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

63

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