What: "The Divine Sister"
When: 8 p.m. May 10-11, May 17-18, May 24-25
Where: Circle Stage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
In addition to "The Divine Sister," Chattanooga Theatre Centre will open "Sideways Stories From Wayside School" on the MainStage this weekend. This whimsical comedy about a far from ordinary school and the students who go there is the final production in the CTC Youth Theatre season.
It also marks the final production as Youth Theatre director for Maria Chattin-Carter, who is leaving the CTC after 10 years to spend more time with her family. She will be honored at the Sonia Young Awards for Excellence in Youth Theatre on May 25.
"Sideways Stories" is based on a book by Louis Sachar, author of "Holes," and is adapted for the stage by John Olive.
The six public performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, May 10-11 and 17-18, and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays, May 12 and 19. The opening-night performance will be followed by a reception catered by Dish T' Pass.
Tickets are $8 and $10 and may be purchased in advance at 423-267-8534 or online at tickets.theatrecentre.com.
"The Divine Sister," which opens Friday, May 10, in the Circle at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, is the odd cousin to movies like "The Song of Bernadette," "The Bells of St. Mary's" and "The Trouble With Angels."
However, it's the odd cousin only in a sense that nuns help populate each story. Indeed, the production is more of a spoof of the sweetly pious films.
"It's so zany and outrageous," says George Quick, the CTC executive director who also is a cast member. "That's the fun of it. The storytelling is there, and the twists are funny. It's as if you were spoofing a soap opera."
"The Divine Sister" was written by Charles Busch, the playwright of "Psycho Beach Party," a popular CTC Circle hit in 2009.
Co-director and cast member Scott Dunlap said playgoers need not have seen the nun movies to enjoy the production.
"Like 'Blazing Saddles' and 'Young Frankenstein,' it stands on its own," he said.
The comedy tells the story of St. Veronica's indomitable Mother Superior, who is determined to build a new school for her Pittsburgh convent. Along the way, she has to deal with a young postulant who is experiencing "visions," sexual hysteria among her nuns, a sensitive schoolboy in need of mentoring, a mysterious nun visiting from Berlin and a former suitor intent on luring her away from her vows.
"The Divine Sister" is an ensemble piece with great parts for character actors, according to Dunlap.
"Everybody gets their moment," he said. "Everybody gets a sub-plot. It's all tied up neatly in the end."
Indeed, Dunlap compared the play's character work to one of TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
"Rehearsals for this have been so much fun. It truly has been like 'The Carol Burnett Show,' " where actors used to break up during tapings. "We hope audiences respond in the same way."
Contact Clint Cooper at email@example.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.