Many Southern Californians periodically drive up to Las Vegas to play games, gamble, watch the shows, enjoy the lounge acts, and sometimes a magician!
Well, for the next couple of weeks you can enjoy all that at an elegant venue much closer to home: La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
And just who is providing this bountiful evening of laughter and fun? Sister Maripat Donovan, that’s who. And her long-time director Marc Silvia.
Additionally, who is assisting her in her hilarious efforts to explain the Catholic Church to a decidedly lay audience? You and the rest of the 1500 people who have come to hear her take on the inscrutable mysteries of the Church. You are all her captive students in this theater/classroom. Participants whom she cajoles into accepting her pronouncements without once deploying her disciplinary ruler.
But be warned: she has a wicked wit which she does not hesitate to dump on her audience. It’s mainly ad lib, unexpected and hilarious, and not at all like the disparaging jibes of Don Rickles.
Sister Maripat has perfected her solo performance as a nun since her first show, Late Night Catechism in Chicago in 1992. Since then she has written six other Catechisms and performed them for audiences around the world.
The current one in La Mirada, Late Night Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice, is built around Sister’s mission to raise funds for a struggling parish church. For this effort she has devised a prospective Vegas Night with a program of sure-fire hits for her parishioners, including a mechanical bull, karaoke, magic, board games, and bingo, for which she provides prizes such as laminated cards depicting saints and glow-in-the-dark rosaries.
And there’s no reason to pray for a win at bingo, she advises. “God invented bingo, but he doesn’t micromanage it.” she says.
And she explains the hierarchy of angels and the roles of saints, noting that St. Augustine was virtually obsessed with angels, gathering information and writing about them incessantly. “He was a man who had way too much time on his hands,” she asserts.
In all this she engages the audience, asking them questions and incorporating them into her magic act. She plays blackjack with them and turns a white dove into a black dog. And she answers questions. “Do you think priests should marry?” someone asks, and she replies “Well, if they love each other very much.”
“Do you think women will ever be able to become priests?” she is asked. “Don’t hold your breath,” Sister responds. “For one thing, you have to look like Christ, and you have to be a Jewish carpenter.”
And she explains, succinctly, the difference between a venial sin and a mortal one. “If I steal a candy bar from a 711, that’s a venial sin,” she says. “But it’s a mortal sin if I shoot the clerk.”
Finally, she identifies behavioral rights and wrongs as stipulated by Catholic doctrine. It often depends on your intention, she observes, but if you’re in doubt, just remember “If you BELIEVE it’s wrong, it IS wrong.”
Sister Maripat and her Late Night Catechism will run through November 16th, with performances Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2.
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada, near where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Call (562) 944-9801 for tickets.
And for a special treat at Christmastime, plan to see Sister’s Christmas Catechism at the Laguna Playhouse.