You don’t have to be Catholic…at Timber Lake Playhouse.
By Sue Langenberg

…but it helps. “Til’ Death Do us Part: Late Night Cat Catechism 3” opened Thursday at Timber Lake Playhouse featuring one-woman show actress Mary Zentmyer. She may make you sit up straight and not chew gum, but she also makes you laugh at life, love, death and all the other hilarious sacraments that go along with it.
Having finished a rousing season of six shows at the Northwestern Illinois summer professional company of talents, it could be a lonely time for TLP; the actors have left, the cabins are empty. Indeed it has been a somewhat drop off in the past when the energy reaches a frenzied summit of success, then sad goodbyes to actors moving on in their careers.
This time the show goes on! Thanks to Sister Mary in association with Entertainment Events, Inc. of New York City, the audience barely noticed an end-of-season juncture when it filed in opening night Thursday anxious to reconnect with this wildly popular series.
As a standup comedian Zentmyer has stamina and strength to capture an audience off-guard for two hours while she brings on genuine laughs every few seconds; few comedians can do that.
She comes by this ability quite naturally following her B.A. degree in Speech and Performing Arts at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.
But the beginning of her wildly popular performance as Sister Mary began long before that as she was raised Catholic by School Sisters of St. Francis in Chicago. The pun about habits is that she made it a habit of portraying nuns as Sister Berthe in “The Sound of Music” and Sister Catherine in “Do Black Paton Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” while it was in the early Chicago stages.
The audience doesn’t realize this because about Catholicism, this Sister knows her stuff! In this interactive performance she instructs everyone to “pay attention and follow the rules with both feet on the floor.” She can call upon someone to recite the Seven Sacraments, then turn around and mock how the “Jewish invented guilt, but the Catholics perfected it.” She may call upon someone else, then suddenly realize that this particular audience gal has too much cleavage, then bring out a handy handkerchief for cover. She knows the scriptures, then makes fun of them with comments about the Pope having his own private astronomer followed by jokes about how aliens might act within the Catholic Church.
You don’t have to be Catholic to remember how it was when we stood stiffly and recited the “Pledge of Allegiance” or marched in line to the tune of order and respect. Then she turns around and mocks those very rules with her sometimes soft shoe back to the blackboard and a slight guffaw underneath. If someone chews gum, she invites him to the stage and sticks the wad on his forehead with demand that he report, “Sister, I am sorry that I have disrupted class.” (Yes, it happened on opening night.)
Second act loses no steam for this fun nun as she presents her own version of a dating game using live couples from the audience. She holds signs of “applause,” and has them reveal their real notions about compatibility, whether married 50 years or three.
This show is a summer bonus to regular season, but wait! It’s not over yet. Coming soon at TLP on Saturday, September 10 is an all day Arts & Music Festival. Stay tuned…
You don’t have to be Catholic to find hilarity with Sister Mary in “Late Nite Catechism 3, Til’ Death Do Us Part” that runs 12 performances through Sunday matinee September 4. Tuesday through Saturday show times at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and two Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. and Sunday August 28 evening at 6:30 p.m. Timber Lake Playhouse of Mt. Carroll boonies is a hop, skip and a jump to 8215 Black Oak Road. Call the box office at (815) 244-2035 or for tickets, group rates and more information.