When the Kootenai Karacters hit the stage for their first live performance of “Nunsense” March 16 at 7 p.m., they will be doing something they enjoy in order to help local high school students pursue a field they love.
“The main mission of the Kootenai Karacters — and I don’t think this can be mentioned enough — is to raise money for scholarship for local seniors who are involved in the performing arts,” said director Amy “Sister Mary Amtrak” Smart.
Each year the Kootenai Karacters award two scholarships of between $500 and $1,000, she said. “The more we make, the more we can give.”
But a good cause isn’t the only thing that motivates the “sisters” as they are joking, dancing and singing their hearts out.
“When you’re getting the applause and you’re getting that wonderful experience of being on stage in general, that’s what makes it worth it — the people, and making the people smile,” said Saryn “Sister Mary Leo” Wilkinson.
As the novice who dreams of being a ballerina nun, Wilkinson puts her five years with the Libby Ballet into practice, though she admitted it has been three years since she last danced point.
Ashley “Sister Mary Amnesia” Day said that though she has taught a dance fitness class since 2011, it has been around 20 years since she last tapped.
For Sindy “Sister Robert Anne” Filler, it’s been more like 40.
Cynthia “Sister Mary Regina” Curtiss claimed that she is no dancer, “so they just shoved me to the back.”
Yet, with Day doing the choreography, all of the players have been adding a little more to their repertoire with each rehearsal.
Filler reiterated that the ultimate goal was the scholarships, but said they also get enjoyment out of each other and the performance.
“We do this for the love of acting, and music and because we love our community,” she said.
The players agreed that they look forward to performing for friends and community members they know well.
“It’s a joy to entertain your family and friends, and they get to watch you perform, and that just makes them happy,” Wilkinson said.
“And the other thing is, all these lights that are turned on, we really can’t see anybody out there,”
Molly “Sister Mary Hubert” Matthews-Woodruff added. “So it kind of takes the pressure off a little.”
“It does,” Day said. “I kind of like being blinded.”
Curtiss said she has played Sister Mary Amnesia in the past in other iterations of ‘Nunsense,” but that she has really enjoyed getting to play the part of Reverend Mother, a role with several high-energy moments, dancing and a few extra props.
“I’ve loved it. I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said.
During rehearsals, Smart earns her name of Sister Mary Amtrak by keeping things on track, but the other players don’t seem to mind when she has to pull them back in line a little.
“It’s part of the job. You have to have direction,” Filler said.
“They take direction like champs,” Smart said.
While Smart has directed other performances, this is the first one that she hasn’t been an active part of. It has been more stressful than she expected, she admitted.
“I’ve never wanted to be a director. I just only wanted to sing and dance, but, it just — the universe works out that way,” she said. “Apparently people can follow my leadership skills. I don’t know why or how.”
Smart said she began studying the script back in November after Steve Lethrud approached her to direct. She has never done “Nunsense” before, and even as she sings along behind the scenes, plays down how well she knows the musical when asked.
One thing she never plays down is the players and musicians she is working with.
“Oh, they’re amazing. They’re absolutely — it’s just so ridiculous the amount of talent we have here in little old Libby,” she said. “I‘m really glad to have this opportunity for people to show they’re talents.”
The Kootenai Karacters will present Nunsense at the K.W. Maki Theater:
Fri.-Sat., March 16-17, 7 p.m.
Sun., March 18, 2 p.m.
Thur.-Sat., March 22-24, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Adults $12, 12 and under $6
Tickets can be purchased at Libby Chamber of Commerce, Homesteaders or The Printing Press/Cultured Purl