Sept. 14 2011 12:00 AM

'The Divine Sister' looks for laughs

Mike Stewart has a case of the giggles.

And when Stewart, director of Lansing Civic Players’ “The
Divine Sister,” can’t get more than a few sentences out before
chuckling while talking about the new comedy that bows Thursday, it
bodes well for a fun night in the theatre.

 “I picked up this show, I read it and I fell off the chair laughing,” Stewart said.  “The story being told is fluff, but so funny.”

“Sister” was written by Charles Busch, a Tony-winning playwright and female impersonator known for irreverent pop-culture-skewering shows like “Psycho Beach Party” and “Die! Mommy! Die!”  

Coming directly from an acclaimed
off-Broadway run, “Sister” is an off-the-cuff homage to Hollywood
portrayals of nuns in TV shows and films like “The Flying Nun,” “Agnes
of God” and “The Sound of Music” and features its cast performing in
drag —a hallmark of Busch’s work.

Paul Levandowski stars as the Mother Superior, whose
quest to build a new school for her convent finds her combating
everything from sexual hysteria among her nuns to an ex-suitor looking
to rekindle their relationship.

 “(Levandowski) actually got to talk to Busch about the character,” Stewart said.  “It’s a really hard role, but he’s doing really great.”

The cast includes Jessie Rummins, Sandy Van Lacker, Susan
Chmurynsky, Sarah Sonnenberg, Laura Croff Wheaton and Stewart himself
pulling double-duty as an “international nun hit woman.”

Stewart said the show is “on the naughty side, definitely
adult and very descriptive.” He urges audience members to leave the
kids at home.

“The action is kind of non-stop,” he said. “There’s always something to see.  Expect to roll on the floor laughing.”

Lynn Lammers had no illusions that tackling a 9/11-themed show in the
weeks surrounding the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks would
be easy.

“I knew this would be leading this crop of actors into the lion’s den,” she said of the production, which kicks off Thursday. 

"The Divine Sister"

Lansing Civic Players. 8 p.m. Saturday. Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Road, East Lansing. $12. (517) 484-9115