Homage, mimicry, tribute, camp: In the grip of Charles Busch, the eminent playwright and drag legend currently starring Off-Broadway in his play The Divine Sister, those notions mingle and mesh hilariously.
The Divine Sister takes place at the convent of St Veronica's, where mistaken identities and a convoluted plot are a godsend -- that is until the show concludes its run, which is currently scheduled for April 30th. Here are four reasons to pray for a ticket before then:
4) The More, the Nunnier: The number of Hollywood nuns that Busch references over the course of The Divine Sister boggles the mind. Certainly, there are tributes to The Sound of Music, The Singing Nun and The Song of Bernadette. But those are only the edge of the nun's wimple.
3) The Cast of Characters: This is no one-nun show. Busch has surrounded himself with a set of sublime character actors, most of whom play multiple parts. From the invaluable comedy of Julie Halston as the wrestling coach Sister Acacius to the strident commitment of Alison Fraser as a visiting nun, each part is played to side-splitting effect.
2) Did I Hear That Correctly?: It may be obvious; it is definitely crass. Either way, the show's slogan is instantly quotable. Busch's Mother Superior turns to Sister Acacius, inquiring with her languid diction, "What is it you can't face?" Uttered from the Mother Superior's lips, the "a" in "can't" sounds an awful lot like "uh." Sister Acacius gasps in response. Cue audience meltdown.
1) Eye of the Storm: When Busch sends up iconic Hollywood actresses, it is more like a blissful send-off. He embodies them so completely, his imitations are akin to conjuring acts. That startling skill of his is on ripe display in the movie of Die, Mommie, Die! Live and onstage, though, that kind of mastery is an experience that should not be missed.