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Published: Thursday, 12/11/2008

Be on best behavior for return of 'Sister'


Toledoans, take note. Sister is returning to the city to present a lesson in Christmas, and she ll expect your best behavior.

For the second year, the Valentine Theatre presents Sister s Christmas Catechism, the holiday-themed show in the popular family of stage plays by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan. But even though it s returning, there are differences.

For one thing, Sister is now played by Diana Carl of Germantown, Wis., who says there s quite a bit of leeway in the script to allow her to put her own stamp on it.

I m particularly into the saints, she said, explaining that she uses their lives and foibles to make some humorous points.

As in the other shows in the Late Nite Catechism family, the theater becomes Sister s classroom, and the audience is her students, most of whom she considers class clowns. She sets standards of behavior for her students, chastising the girls for wearing perfume such as Obsession or My Sin and the boys for chewing gum and ogling their female classmates. And heaven help the boy who puts his arm around a girl.

In a telephone interview this week, Carl said Christmas Catechism is her favorite of the shows. I think it s the most accessible [show] because Christmas is such a universal holiday.

Subtitled The Mystery of the Magi s Gold, the plot considers what happened to one of the gifts the gold that the Magi brought to Jesus. Sister uses some of the forensic skills she s learned from the CSI-type shows she loves to watch on TV to figure out what happened to it.

Each audience responds in a different manner, Carl said, and that helps her to figure out what s going to tickle that particular class at that particular performance.

One time, she said, she noticed a Lutheran minister in the audience, and some gentle questioning turned up the fact that many of the Catholics in his town came to his church, simply because they loved his sermons.

I had a lot of fun with that, she said.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.

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