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A CurtainUp Review
Sister Myotis's Bible Camp

Friends, the handy thing about being a member of the Honeybee's Ladies Auxiliary, is that thinking is not required. . .we do all of that! We do all the work, so you don't have to! Which leaves you time for Potluck dinners, Ladies Auxiliary meetings, decoupaged bedpans, ambrosia salad, Godly pedicures, and of course. . .hours of Christian fellowship with the Honeybee's Ladies Auxiliary. . .all locked up. . .with no place to hide. Sister Myosis at First Bible Boot Camp in New York City.
Sister Myotis-Steve Swift
Steve Swift as Sister M
(Photo: Kim Sharp)
Praise be, Sister! If you want to get to Glory, Sister Myotis's Bible Camp has set up a Bible Boot Camp at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex's Dorothy Strelsin Theatre.

Sister Myotis, with her assistants, Sister Ima Lone (Jenny Odle Madden) and Sister Velma Needlemeyer (Todd Berry), is ready to teach you about steering clear of the evils of sex education, thongs and toe fungus. Warning! It's a rocky path to salvation, so approach this show with a sense of humor because, as one Texan in the audience commented, "It's sort of over-the-top but there's truth in there too."

Sister Myotis's Bible Camp is a new play written by and starring Steve Swift as Sister Myotis, President of the Honeybees Ladies Auxiliary International of the Good Tidings Apostolic Holiness Christian Fellowship of Saints. Directed by Jerre Dye, this satire of southern Christian church-going ladies with an undeniably narrow outlook is corny but with a hearty dash of Tabasco.

Sister Myotis is head deaconess of a sizable evangelical church and her job is to recruit and train the faithless in the Coalition of Ordained Christian Homemakers (C.O.O.C.H.). They then proceed to "advanced mediocrity" and become Honeybees. Sister Myotis designated one hapless male audience member as Sister Lois Carmen Denominator, a model Honeybee from Tennessee.

When everyone is seated, the doors are locked and alarms set. Attendees are in for a one-week retreat promising lengthy sermons by Sister Myotis, illustrated by slides and songs by Sisters Velma and Ima.

Steve Swift portrays a robust, earnest Sister Myotis with a militaristically folksy charm and raging malapropism, warning against Niagra (Viagra), and Thigh (Thai) Restaurants. Sister Myotis has already garnered a YouTube audience telling the truth as she sees it, attacking subjects like thong panties, one of the "weapons of mass corruption.", from "the land of France". She urges ladies to wear "good Christian panties. . .with a Godly cotton panel" and tosses some into the audience. She is a fierce proponent of "Christian pedicures, Dick Cheney Children's Rifle Range, and the church's merit badges hand-sewn by the nimble fingers of a third-world child." Expect her to also give additional meaning to "pigs in a blanket".

\ Todd Berry plays strait-laced Sister Velma with a hint of a rebellious past. Velma is in charge of the overhead slide projector and boasts the handcrafted toenail she painted on a skin-colored band-aid, although it's barely visible with reinforced nylons under her white sandals. As Sister Ima, Jenny Odle Madden is a disadvantaged waif who has, according to Sister Myotis, "a mind the size of a squirrel".

The dutiful acolytes are eager to burst into song at the right moment. These are taped pop tunes, except for a disjointed spiritual dance to Schubert's "Ave Maria." At one point, they bring tears to Sister Myotis' eyes with "Don't Cry Out Loud." Unfortunately, just as they two delve into the spirit of their songs, Sister Myotis puts an end to their performances. Obviously, with her extended monologues, she is in charge.

Unlike her name, which means a small brown bat, Sister Myotis is floridly dressed with gold-trimmed purple and later a cheery checked gingham dress with ruffled apron and a vivid plastic corsage. Designers Ashley Whitten Kopera and Kim Yeager provide amusing down-home details for the church ladies' costumes. Check out the cat-eye glasses on glittery chains and the puffy, stiff-sprayed wigs.

Jerre Dye stresses the quirks in each of the characters but the show runs long and could be trimmed. Segments like calling up audience members to help make the pot-luck ambrosia help revive sagging momentum, especially when boosted by a big laugh for the battery mixer he was given. Hint: It's not used for mixing desserts. Another crowd-pleaser after Act I distributed slips of paper, each featuring an audience member's name, with instructions to find the individuals on their papers and give them something personal. Suggestions include a handmade bracelet crafted from paper clips or a tissue. Surprisingly, the audience enthusiastically took to this idea during intermission

If you're in the mood for light camp and irreverence, honey, you're in the right place. This is not Broadway bound and you are not going to be left with much in the way of inspiration but Sister Myotis's Bible Camp does offers some laughs, so enjoy and give them an "Amen."

Sister Myotis's Bible Camp by Steve Swift
Directed by Jerre Dye
Cast: Steve Swift, Todd Berry, Jenny Odle Madden
Set Design: Jerre Dye
Costume Design: Ashley Whitten Kopera and Kim Yeager
Lighting Design: Travis McHale
Sound Design: David Newsome
Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes with intermission
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex's Dorothy Strelsin Theatre: 312 West 36th Street. (212) 868-2055.
Tickets: $25 at or. 212-868-2055.
Performances: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm; and Sundays at 2pm (special opening night performance, Sunday, June 20 at 5:00pm only). From 6/4/10; opening 6/20/10; closing 7/4/10. Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 6/27/10
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