REVIEW: Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night (Nuns4Fun)


A fun evening of parochial flashbacks!


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Nuns4Fun Entertainment and Vicki Quade present
Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night
Written and Directed by Vicki Quade
Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
through Dec 24  |  tickets: $30  |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

Sunday was a true Chicago winter day. The snow and cruel wind brought back memories of the 1967 blizzard. It’s what was called ‘the big one’ for a while and we Chicagoans take pride in having survived. A little girl named Kathy Deneen trudged through the snow the day after the blizzard in spite of snow past her pull-over galoshes. Holy Name of Mary School did not have snow days. Memories!  Flash forward to 2010 and a grown up (sometimes) Kathy trudges herself over to the Royal George Theatre through a nasty winter storm. It was a real trip to walk into a perfectly Mother Superior Ho-Ho-Holy Nightreproduced Catholic classroom.

I gawked in amazement at the felt board with both Nativity and secular Christmas appliqués. Virgin Mary’s and Baby Jesus’ abounded. I looked for a scary cloakroom to put my coat and scarcely remembered that I wasn’t wearing pullover galoshes when Lisa Braatz bounded into the classroom. Ms. Braatz is one of the actresses (along with Kathleen Puls Andrade, Michelle Renee Thompson and Andrea Moser) portraying Mother Superior in Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night, produced and directed by Vicki Quade. Whether you are Catholic or not, the show is good, clean, and G-rated fun. In fact, if you are or were raised Catholic like me, it can be a little weird separating the show from real memories.

Ms. Braatz embodies a nun right after Vatican II but still bred in the old catechism. Her character has ramrod posture devoid of any sexuality in her movement. The head- gear and the rosary were in perfect placement. I almost stood up and recited The Act of Contrition for being grumpy about the weather!

Ms. Braatz takes the audience through a stroll down memory lane regarding the saints, martyrs, and of course sin – but only the venial variety. Mother Superior asks names, and if you aren’t named for a saint then you must be a Protestant. ‘What kind of name is Austin?’ she quizzed one young woman who sat with her family of –gasp- former Catholics. She asked if there were any single or widowed women in the classroom and I raised my hand. I got a holy card with Saint Ann who is the patron of single women and widows. My prayer instructions are ‘Saint Ann! Saint Ann! Send me a man as fast as you can!” Yes it’s amusing but tell that to South Siders with saint statues buried in the yard to bring forth a homebuyer.

Mother Superior has all sorts of displays and prizes for correct answers on holy days of obligation, one of which is Christmas. Her spiel on Baby Jesus’ birthday is funny because of the authenticity. I’m pretty sure that even non-Catholics would get the humor and be good sports about not being the ‘one true religion’. She is ecumenical in her references to the Hanukkah Bush and Muslim New Year but that’s where the comparison ends. The class/audience gets a lesson in St. Nicholas that culminates in some amusing pictures of the character as well as real history. The best picture is good old St. Nick and Baby Jesus. It must be a miracle since they were a few centuries apart in existence but you never question Mother Superior.

Mother Superior Lisa BraatzAct 2 of Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night consisted of putting together the Nativity and the secular Christmas to get to the finals and win a trip to Rome where the Pope lives. Our parish of St. Gabriel was sure to win by putting a Santa, a Christmas tree, an elf, and a candy cane or two around the Nativity scene to make it more contemporary. If you have ever taken a walk around some Chicago neighborhoods during the holidays, this will ring true and funny. Ms. Braatz assigns roles to audience members for a wacky time traveling Nativity play. One young woman was given the role of the Virgin and a blue feather boa because the Blessed Mother is always seen in blue. Then five Angel Gabriel’s are cast from the audience and given different readings of the Annunciation (another Holy Day of Obligation by the way). Mother Superior gave one of the few men in the audience the role of Joseph and a Beatnik wig. Everyone was happy to participate and it didn’t involve a smack in the face with a cream pie or on the knuckles with that giant candy cane. I will admit to drawing back a little when Mother Superior picked it up.

In all, I recommend this show for family outings and where to take your relatives from the old neighborhood. That is particularly if you’re from Chicago, where we ask what parish did you grow up in. This show is one of the nuns4fun productions that have been entertaining Chicagoans for years. They take donations for retired nuns who are not covered under the Social Security Act and are now living that vow of poverty without the protection or security afforded to priests.

Put on your galoshes and your sense of humor and get to the Royal George. FYI-the Baltimore Catechism is available online and it would be good to do a little brush up if you want a lovely macramé plastic cross!

Rating: ★★★

For show times on Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night call The Royal George Theatre at 312-988-9000 and visit to get more information on more Mother Superior entertainment. I will let you know how that St. Ann thing works out.




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REVIEW: “Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night”

Nuns Take On the Holiday Funk


Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night

by Vicki Quade
At the Royal George thru January 3rd (tickets)

reviewed by Paige Listerud

Since success in 1993, Vicki Quade has turned her Catholic school upbringing into a cottage industry. Her one-woman sister act, Late Night Catechism, first performed by Maripat Donovan, continues to regale audiences nationwide with its potent mix of pre-Vatican II nostalgia, absurdist takes on Catholic doctrine, and lovable GetAttachment.aspx authoritarianism. The format for LNC, and each of its spin-offs, provides a watershed of reliable material for its habit-attired comediennes to fall back on while allowing for roomy give and take between nun and audience. But one element never varies from show to show—the hierarchical relationship between nun and audience is sacrosanct.

It’s a device that’s returned to again and again. Many have mentioned how being in the room with Sister propels them back to 3rd grade catechism class. Certainly, walking down the hallway to the theater gave me Catholic flashbacks. It’s decked with pictures of Popes past, after-school notices, gold stars, and a strategically placed statue of the Virgin. Who knew just the smell of construction paper could bring it all back? Being relegated to childlike status, while someone else reigns with supreme certainty, no matter how nutty they get, is the core of this theatrical experience. (It’s kind of like being under the Bush/Cheney administration, but much more fun and with far less devastating consequences.)

The latest of Quade’s installments, Mother Superior’s Ho-Ho-Holy Night, provides yet another opportunity for nun-domination. The question is, does the rest of its material advance beyond that central core? Kathleen Puls Andrade, who alternates playing Sister with Lisa Braatz through the run, gamely pulls the audience into the task of creating a Christmas pageant that will wow even His Holiness. Here, she’s most successful when she can get a row of men into haloes and angels wings to try out variations on the angel Gabriel.

index However, the humor really flags when she tries to create forced outrageousness by mixing secular and sacred Christmas imagery—something we’ve long since lost our outrage over. Ever the season for pagan, Christian, and even Jewish syncretism, Christmas is so crammed to the gills with intermixed sacred and secular, having Santa show up in the manger is no longer a stretch—if it ever was. In point of fact, there’s a house on Addison, just west of Clark Street, that changes its front yard tableau of the Virgin Mary regularly. A display of devotion that I never bothered with at my most Catholic, and yet both Santa and the Easter Bunny are trotted out each respective season to take their place beside the Mother of God.

Quade and company may have to go back to the drawing board to dig into what is funny about Christmas, from a Catholic perspective. We are inundated with messages like, “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season,” at this time of year. But the “season” of holiday festivity existed thousand of years before Jesus was born—something that Roman Catholicism remembers and jovially lives with to this very day.

Rating: ★★½