There weren’t just nuns on stage Thursday night at Nunsense: A-Men’s return to the Jaeb Theater.
Members of the Tampa Bay Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence attended the Straz-produced musical comedy which features misters as sisters cracking wise and singing their habits off to raise money to bury fellow nuns who succumbed to a bad batch of soup.
Frankly, the members weren’t hard to miss with their elaborate makeup, and festooned habits, wimples and cornettes sitting amid the crowd in the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center.
They engaged audience members, got the attention of Nunsense’s Mother Superior, played by Matthew McGee, and posed for photographs in the theater lobby and at the Ticket Sales Office will call window.
The Tampa Bay chapter is part of a nearly 40-year-old charity, protest and street performance organization, originally founded in Iowa before transplanting to San Francisco in 1979.
The group uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality. They promote human rights, respect for diversity, spiritual enlightenment and safe sex while also educating others about the harmful effects of drug use.
With more than 50 chapters nationwide and numerous others worldwide, including in Canada, the United Kingdom and South America, the organization has distributed millions of dollars to LGBTQ and AIDS-related causes.
The Tampa Bay Sisters from the “House of the Pillaged Booty” formed more than 13 years ago to provide help to the Tampa and St. Pete community by “expiating stigmatic guilt and promulgating universal joy!,” according to its website.
The group marches in parades and hosts bingo nights and other charity events under the banner “Clownery, Nunnery and Glitter, OH MY!” while living the credo: “Help those who help others.”
The group’s website is soliciting new members eager to become “one of the world’s most glamourous nuns.” Head to the website at tampabaysisters.com to inquire about membership, upcoming events or to make a donation.
Nunsense A-Men runs at The Straz through Aug. 14. Go to strazcenter.org for tickets.