May 21, 2018
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Get thee to a nunnery for Winterport Open Stage’s production of ‘Nunsense’

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
The cast of Winterport Open Stage's "Nunsense," which opens April 19 at Wagner Middle School in Winterport.
By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff

Dominick Varney is a machine. The rubber-limbed, multi-talented actor, singer and director is always working on something, whether it’s roles like Sparky in “Forever Plaid,” Rooster in “Annie” or Robert in “Boeing Boeing,” helping students as an academic adviser at the University of Maine, or leading Winterport Open Stage. The community theater group is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

“It’s my passion, and I’m very lucky that my job at UMaine allows me to do it. We at Winterport Open Stage owe it to the community to keep bringing shows to people,” said Varney. “When I’m not acting, I want to be producing. And I always love a challenge. That’s why I love theater. I want to be challenged.”

Varney is directing — and, for the first time in his life, choreographing — “Nunsense,” the spring production for Winterport Open Stage, which opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, at Wagner Middle School in Winterport with music direction by Phil Burns.

A hilarious staple of regional and community theaters nationwide, “Nunsense” is a tour de force for the five women who play the five Little Sisters of Hoboken. The cast is comprised of Heather Astbury-Libby as Reverend Mother Regina, a former circus performer; Brianne Beck as Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of Novices; Elena DeSiervo Burns as the streetwise Sister Robert Anne; Kari Stowe as Sister Mary Leo, a novice and wannabe ballerina; and the wacky Sister Mary Amnesia, played by Tina Burns, the nun who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head.

“It’s been amazing to work with five women who are so talented. The sounds coming from the stage are incredible,” said Varney. “Elena was involved in musical theater in the area for such a long time, and this is her first time back on stage in a musical in seven years. It’s a real treat.”

Audience members at “Nunsense” will have the added benefit of getting to be directly involved in the upcoming productions at Winterport Open Stage. At each show, they’ll be able to vote on which of the previous shows Winterport Open Stage has produced they’d like to see produced again in the fall. The six shows up for vote are “Sylvia” and “The Dining Room,” both by A.R. Gurney, “Black Comedy” by Peter Shaffer, “Fuddy Meers” by David Lindsay-Abaire, “Inspecting Carol” by Daniel Sullivan and the female version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.”

“I think it’s a pretty unique way to choose a season and to get the community involved,” said Varney. “It’s going to be fun to count the votes at the intermission at the last show and announce it right there.”

Performances of “Nunsense” are set for 7:30 p.m. April 19-20 and 26-27, and 3 p.m. April 21 and 28, at Samuel L. Wagner Middle School on Mountainview Drive in Winterport. Ticket are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, at the door. For more information, visit

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