'Catechism' improv has crowds laughing - Omaha.com
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Mary Zentmyer as Sister in Omaha Community Playhouse's "'Til Death Do Us Part: Late Nite Catechism III."(COURTESY PHOTO)

'Catechism' improv has crowds laughing
By Bob Fischbach / World-Herald staff writer

You're not paying attention, Omaha. You are trying Sister's patience.

“'Til Death Do Us Part: Late Nite Catechism III” arrived for its third session of adult catechism class Friday at the Omaha Community Playhouse, settling in for a monthlong run.

But theatergoers are still not properly preparing for this hilarious mix of scripted jokes, improv and audience participation designed to take you back to the experience of Catholic school in the 1960s.

Within minutes of a Thursday preview's opening, Sister had a young lady from the audience on her knees to test the length of her skirt, which — heaven forbid — didn't reach the floor. A handkerchief soon covered her immodest cleavage. And what were all those Sharpie drawings on her legs? (They're tattoos, Sister.)

Sister's advice: Ask yourself WWMW — What would Mary wear? Not apple-red nail polish, dear.

A young man in the second row was soon apple red after being caught with chewing gum, which Sister promptly ordered him to park on the end of his nose.

And let's not even talk about what happened when somebody's cellphone rang.

Another young lady in the front row, caught trying to slip out to the bathroom, got that crooked finger beckoning her back to ask proper permission. “Give me a dollar for disrupting class. It will go to the pagan baby fund.” Oh, you don't have a single? That $5 bill will do.

“Take off that hat, young man. You're not at the ballpark.”

And so it went all night long as people roared at each other being mortified by this strict nun (Mary Zentmyer) who is quick on her feet, doesn't miss a thing with those darting blue eyes, and is fair to all — meaning nobody gets a break.

On the other hand, if you venture to raise your hand and properly try to answer one of her questions, she will give you a holy medal as a brave soldier of Christ. Or maybe a card with a picture of Saint Uncumber Marie, patron saint of difficult marriages, who avoided nuptials by miraculously sprouting a mustache and beard.

The sacraments of marriage and blessing of the sick are the course curriculum this summer (hence, “'Til Death Do Us Part”), though Sister often wanders wide of the topic. She delighted Thursday's audience by zeroing in on Larry King, president of show sponsor Woodmen of the World, and his wife, Sandra. The two, married 45 years, nonetheless did not fare well on Sister's compatibility test.

Offer it up, children. And no talking to your neighbor.

What's amazing is watching grownups, Catholic or not, snap to as Sister clicks her clicker and lays down the law. They couldn't stop laughing at each other, or at Sister's crackling wit.

But wake up, children. Be prepared, so you'll be the laugher and not the laughee. And no praying to Saint Google for the answer on that pop quiz.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1269, bob.fischbach@owh.com

If you go..

What: Professional tour at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., Howard Drew Theatre

When: Tonight through July 21; 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Exception: No performances July 3 through 7.

Tickets: $35 all seats

Information: 402-553-0800 or online at omahaplayhouse.org

Contact the writer: Bob Fischbach

bob.fischbach@owh.com    |   402-444-1269

Bob reviews movies and local theater productions and writes stories about those topics, as well.

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Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

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