Brian Jacobson

Diana Carl Alioto gets thee to a nunnery

By - Nov 25th, 2009 09:10 am

Alioto as “Sister,” reminding you of her angelic quality. Photo by Dawn Ogas Crane.

For anyone who has been to a staging of the Sister’s Late Nite Catechism series by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan, knows that it’s more than a one-woman show. Catholics who have attended are perhaps comforted by the fact that the “nun” in front of the “classroom” is not being portrayed as a joke or mean-spirited caricature.

Anyone who has seen Milwaukee’s Diana Carl Alioto portray the role in part one or the first sequel (subtitled: Sometimes We Feel Guilty Because We Are Guilty) is perhaps relieved that she doesn’t demand that you participate or answer her questions like other stagings. That being said, don’t arrive late. Don’t chew gum. And for gosh sakes, turn off your cell phone.

You will find yourself in the naughty corner.

“I don’t hit them with the ruler or anything,” says Alioto. “In Late Nite One, I let them talk about times they were hit with the ruler. It’s cathartic, I guess.”

Alioto is talking about a role she first researched and workshopped with the author and other actors many years ago, but ultimately each “Sister” is a riff on the actor’s own personality.

“We are encouraged by the director to be ourselves, to bring our own selves to it a lot,” Alioto says, “because you have to be on your toes, you have to be interacting with other people. So if you’re trying too much to be your character, you can just drop that.”


Diana Carl Alioto

Today, she is out of the habit (Alioto owns her own) and behind the desk as she triumphantly returned to her company manager position at Skylight Opera Theatre after infamously falling under the ax earlier this year. In the interim, she worked with First Stage Theater Academy through an extension program. As fun as that was, Alioto says she’s grateful to be back.

While she has performed this holiday show elsewhere, the upcoming, limited-run engagement at Vogel Hall (Dec. 1-13) fit perfectly into her schedule. She can practice at home with her husband/current stage manager, Steve Alioto. There is a planned set with desk items, ornaments and religious holiday tchotchkes like prayer cards and advent calendars to hand out. But there are few stage marks or tech rehearsals, like Shakespeare in the park or combat theatre.

There is the skeleton of a story. It’s the annual class Christmas party, and the good Sister gets a local choir (a real one in each show) to do a sing-along. She wonders aloud what happened to the third gift the wisemen brought to the nativity scene in Bethlehem. Frankincense and myrrh she can understand: “We know that Mary used the frankincense and myrrh as a sort of potpourri; they were in a barn after all.”

But what happened to the gold that could have made the family rich? This Late Nite Catechism in the second act turns into a forensic re-enactment as the clues are uncovered and the thief revealed.

Alioto talks at length in this 10-minute digest podcast about learning the role and what to expect from Sister’s Christmas Catechism: Mystery of the Magi’s GoldQuicktime Player is required if you don’t see the player below.

sc3Show times are in the evening, starting this Tuesdays through Saturdays, with a Sunday matinee to boot. Prices start at $40 and vary depending on performance, seat location and date of purchase. Single tickets are on sale now and are available online through the Marcus Center Box Office or by calling 414-273-7206. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets at a discount by calling Group Sales at 414-273-7121 x 210.

Categories: Podcasts, Theater, VITAL

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