Express & Star

Wolverhampton Grand at 125: Play was second to nun

It was jokes all round when a group of 'nuns' met their real-life counterparts over tea and cakes.

Mother Superior, Sister Joanna, on the right, with her stage counterpart Maggie Beckitt

Actresses performing in the comedy show Nunsense at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre more than three decades ago were delighted to receive a special invitation after members of the Sisters of Mercy convent attended the first night.

Far from being offended by the funny but irreverent production, the sisters could not stop laughing.

And they returned the compliment by inviting the entire cast for afternoon tea at the convent in Poplar Road, Penn Fields.

In our picture, taken in February 1988, the real Mother Superior, Sister Joanna, on the right, poses with her stage counterpart Maggie Beckitt and a puppet from the comedy.

The show – about five nuns who have to raise money for the funerals of 52 of their number after Sister Julia accidentally poisoned them with her cooking – became a huge success after opening on Broadway three years earlier.

By the time it closed, it had become an international phenomenon translated into at least 26 languages with more than 8,000 productions worldwide.

The Sisters of Mercy convent in the town was founded in 1849, and was a daughter of St Mary’s Convent in Handsworth, then in Staffordshire. Their main apostolic work was education, the care of orphans and girls in need and visiting the sick.

The picture is reproduced as the Express & Star joins with the Grand to mark the theatre’s milestone 125th anniversary celebrations.

If you have memories or pictures, email or write to 125 Memories Project, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, WV1 1DE.