Dan Goggin, the creator of “Nunsense,” recently flew in from New York to watch the umpteenth staging of his cabaret musical phenomenon. As soon as the Las Vegas Hilton production ended, he came down from the balcony and leaped into action.
But not with a sheath of production notes.
No, he pulled one of the still-costumed sisters into service to show director Nancy Gregory how to pin back the habits, so the veils don’t get in the actors’ faces. “We need to put a video of how to dress a nun on YouTube,” he said.
Later, the affable Goggin chuckled when he said he was relieved: “All I had to do is show them how to pin the veils and we’re done. I really felt everybody had done really well with the part.”
“Nunsense” comes to Las Vegas under unusual circumstances and put Goggin in an awkward position. His show has been done 8,000 times in the past 25 years; 160 productions were licensed worldwide in the past six months alone.
The author can’t possibly see them all. When friends pull him in to see an amateur production, “You can just sit there and say, ‘Oh it’s wonderful,’ and leave.”
But his own team still oversees the pro versions in larger cities. The Hilton is a rare exception. Gregory and producer Jay Harvey convinced him to give them a free hand. “Coming out here on the plane, it was stressful only because I thought, ‘I’m all involved in this. We really want this to have a presence in Las Vegas.’ There’s that question of what do you do if you don’t like it? What do you say?
“So as the show was going on and the audience was responding, it was like, ‘Oh good. Oh good. Oh good.’ It was an enormous relief to legitimately say to the girls you really like them and didn’t have to fake it.”
If you’re a one-hit wonder in pop music, you become Vanilla Ice. But in theater, one big hit can become a cottage industry.
Goggin, 67, finds himself in the company of “Forever Plaid” creator Stuart Ross or Jeanie Linders’ “Menopause the Musical.” But Goggin has been more prolific, authoring six “Nunsense” sequels, including the Vegas-themed “Nunsensations!”
“If I go to a theater with a brand new ‘Nunsense,’ all I gotta do is knock on the door and say, ‘Hey, I got a new one.’ And they’re like, ‘Come on in,’ ” he explains.
“If I go and say, ‘I’ve written a new show based on this book and blah, blah …,’ it’s like, ‘We gotta see it in a workshop production.’ There’s no trust.”
To film the show’s opening video, Goggin went back to the same Michigan order that schooled him as a lad. Now his grade school inspirations have grossed more than $500 million.
“In some ways I can’t even relate to it, it’s so unreal.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.