“Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – December 2, 2023

“SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM” IS A HUMOROUS BUT LOVING JAB AT CATHOLIC HOLIDAY DOGMA

“Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold”
The Phoenix Theatre Company, Hardes Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“Late Nite Catechism’s” wacky and irreverent Sister is at it again as she hilariously tries to explain what happened to the Magi’s gold that should have gone to the baby Jesus, Joseph, and Mary.  In the holiday-inspired “Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold,” this amusing spoof/sequel isn’t quite as sharply witty or as vicariously amusing as the original but it has some clever lyrics and loads of audience participation which draws the attendees into the show.

Like the former show, this one is set in Sister’s overstuffed classroom where the unsuspecting audience are her gullible students.  After preliminary jabs at the Catholic Church and its formidable holiday rigmarole, Sister takes a break to use the “Nun’s Room.”  Returning, she casts the Nativity using recruited audience members.  Sometimes people volunteer and sometimes Sister goes on a hunt.  Sister’s assistant helps garb the cast using bags of bizarre outfits appropriate for each Naivety player.  Baby Jesus is cast in a unique way that brightens the show. The opening night assemblage proved clever and creative as many of the “cast” added to the mayhem.  Revealing if and where the Magi’s gold is found would spoil the show’s key moment.

“Sister’s Christmas Catechism…” is neither mean nor besmirches the Catholic Church; it is always loving as it finds humor in the Church’s monumental rituals.  Like so many sequels, knowledge of the earlier show stifles some of the unexpected malarkey the show sprang on audiences the first time around.

The Phoenix Theatre Company’s spiffy production makes the most of the material .  Headed by Jodie Weiss’s hobblingly improvised Sister, her right-on comic delivery, and her sassy, often improvised remarks to audience responses, Weiss has her class under rigid control.  Lorin Mae Phillips adds stability as Sister’s able assistant who helps prepare the recruited cast for their roles after leading the “class” in singing familiar holiday tunes with some cute changes here and there.

With “Sister’s Christmas Catechism…” joining the joyous “Elf The Musical,” TPTC has two very different but amiable Yuletide offerings through year’s end.  “Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” continues through December 30.  To order tickets, call The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade B+