Catholic School Girls

By - Feb 25th, 2008 02:52 pm
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By Charise Dawson

Despite what you may think, Catholic School Girls is not a dark drama of how Catholic schoolgirls are horribly mistreated by nuns or a sexy story of parochial schoolgirls gone wild – for the most part.

Four girls in plaid skirts and matching white blouses girls do fantasize about “doing it,” and sometimes the nuns push them around, but this humorous and tender play by Casey Kurtti is mostly about the obstacles and achievements of female classmates and friends at St. George’s Catholic grade school in Yonkers, NY. The Milwaukee premiere runs at the Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre in Bay View through March 16.

The play offers a snapshot of 1960s history, moving from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to “One small step for man …” The popular music of the time that plays during scenic transitions — “It’s a Beautiful Morning,” “Stop in the Name of Love” – is one of the most enjoyable artistic selections of the production.

Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre’s founder and Artistic Director Mark Bucher directs this play, and he is in his element here. He has four characters that, on casual inspection of the script, do not seem particularly distinct: they are all the same age and gender and speak in the same generically youthful cadences. Digging into the text for subtleties and exercising faith that his actresses will pull it off, he gives each schoolgirl her unique feel and personality.

The four schoolgirls of the title are well cast and charismatically performed, particularly Anne Miller in the role of Elizabeth McHugh, who undergoes the harshest spiritual crisis. The girls have a convincing chemistry as an ensemble while each actress pops at the appropriate moments with her own personal quirks and compulsions.

The girls are the stars, but they are supported ably by the nuns. Stuck with the largely thankless job of saying hurtful things and potentially offending certain audience members, they make the most of their roles, ultimately delivering some of the production’s biggest laugh-lines.

Good acting, skilled direction and the author’s sense of wit make for a laugh-filled evening, the only downside being an over-extended and overly sentimental ending.

Catholic School Girls will run through Sunday, March 16th, 2008 at 2252 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. To reserve seating, call 414-744-5757 or visit the Boulevard Ensemble Studio Theatre online.

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