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‘Late Nite Catechism’ comes to Durango’s Community Concert Hall

Comedy returns to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. with “Late Nite Catechism,” featuring Nonie Newton-Breen as “Sister.”

This show is not appropriate for young audiences.

With comedy described as Loretta Young meets Carol Burnett, “Late Nite Catechism” was tagged by the New York Times as, “… hilarious, well-written and inspired.”

The show was originally conceived and produced at the Live Bait Theatre in Chicago by authors Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan, along with Nancy Burkholder, David Csicsko and Pamela Gecan, and it has endured as one of the longest running shows in Chicago and U.S. theater history. Featuring only one performer — Sister — the show is part catechism class and part stand-up comedy routine.

At the core of the play is a list of eight saints, such as Saint Christopher and Saint Mary Madagalene, which Sister reviews and provides her personal reasons for why each should or should not be de-canonized. Of course, Sister digresses, and the audience becomes part of her class when she turns back time to the days of Latin Mass, meatless Fridays, and the good ol’ ruler across the knuckles.

Wrote the Chicago Reader, “Yes ‘Late Nite Catechism’ is a religious comedy. Yes, it features a woman dressed in a black habit, and, yes, just like Sister Mary Ignatius (“Sister Act”), she explains Catholicism to the un-indoctrinated. But the similarities stop there. ‘Late Nite Catechism’ is refreshingly different from most plays about religion and those differences make this one-woman show a top-notch comedy.”

Nonie Newton-Breen, who plays Sister, hails from a self-described large Irish-Catholic “mob” in Chicago, where she honed her comedy skills first at the dinner table and later at Chicago’s famed Second City Theatre. A seasoned performer, she played three seasons at the Green Mountain Guild in Vermont, toured clubs and colleges in the south with plays and later the improvisational group, The Reification Company, and enjoyed a two-year run in Jerry Mayer’s “Aspirin & Elephants” at the Santa Monica Playhouse. An Emmy winner for writing and performing “Oh, Art!” for PBS, Newton-Breen has appeared in soap operas, sitcoms and hidden camera shows. Her television writing credits include: “Candid Camera,” “Late Date,” “The Barkers” and CBS’ “Say What?”

As Sister in the “Late Nite Catechism” plays, Newton-Breen has toured the country for the past eight years. At the Arvada Center for the Arts in Denver she was nominated for an Ovation Award for best solo performance 2006 (“Sister’s Christmas Catechism”). Newton-Breen dedicates her shows to Sister Regina Therese, her fifth-grade nun, who whacked her frequently… usually for a very good reason.

Tickets for “Late Nite Catechism” ($25/$32) are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com or by calling 247-7657. All sales final.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m., with doors to the Concert Hall and concessions, serving beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, opening at 6:30 p.m.

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