Playwright Charles Busch always plays the leading lady in his en travisti comedies on a New York stage. But Dallas actor Coy Covington is so close to Busch's league of broadly comic cross-dressing broads that the playwright takes tips from him on how to be a funnier her. Covington's latest triumph in a Busch show is the current Uptown Players' production of The Divine Sister, a rip-roaring rout of those sappy nun movies of the 1960s.
Director Andi Allen knows her Trouble with Angels and Sound of Music line for line, so Busch's digs at the sisters of fictional St. Veronica's Convent in the show are twice as funny with the additions of soundtrack cuts and visual gags. Busch and Allen set 'em up and Covington and the cast hit 'em out of the cathedral. "Raindrops on daisies and whiskers on women...these are a few of my favorite things," purrs Covington as the secret-hiding Mother Superior.
And a superior mother she is, too.
Entering on a bicycle like plucky Julie Andrews, turning her cheek to the key-light like Celeste Holm in Come to the Stable, bidding farewell to "Sister Clothilde" like the crazy penguins in Black Narcissus - Covington nails every joke and then some. If only they'd let him fly over the stage like Sister Bertrille in The Flying Nun. But some prayers must go unanswered.
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Mary-Margaret Pyeatt, Kevin Moore, Janette Oswald, Teri Rogers and Lee Jamison Wadley are heaven-sent in a variety of roles, playing various nuns, a monk, a child and a rickety benefactor. Covington doffs his habit for a flashback to Mother Superior's His Girl Friday-type career as a newspaper reporter. The rat-a-tat overlapping conversations in this scene are divinely inspired.
Uptown Players' next show, opening August 24, is the musical The Producers, starring B.J. Cleveland in the Nathan Lane role and Brian Hathaway in the Matthew Broderick part. This company's shows just keep getting bigger and better. How long before they outgrow Kalita Humphreys Theater?
The Divine Sister continues through July 29 at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Call 214-219-2718 for tickets.