Carol Neuleib of Geneseo is thrilled to finally be back in the habit — in more ways than one — on stage at Richmond Hill Players’ newest production.
She plays a wine-loving nun in the RHP 2022 season opener, in the comic farce “Drinking Habits” by Tom Smith. The show will be presented Thursdays through Sundays, March 31-April 10 at the Barn Theatre in Geneseo’s Richmond Hill Park.
In the silly story, two nuns at the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing have been secretly making wine to keep the convent’s doors open, but Paul and Sally, reporters and former fiancées, are hot on their trail. They go undercover as a nun and priest, but their presence, combined with the addition of a new nun, spurs paranoia throughout the convent that spies have been sent from Rome to shut them down. Wine and secrets are inevitably spilled as everyone tries to preserve the convent and reconnect with lost loves.
Neuleib said this week that the last Richmond Hill show she did was 2003, in “Bertha, The Beautiful Typewriter Girl.” The “Drinking Habits” cast includes Dana Skiles (Geneseo); Terri Nelson (Lynn Center); Tom Akers (Cambridge); Justin Raver (Kewanee); Elizabeth Shaffer (Moline); Julie Gray (Hillsdale); and David Beeson (Davenport).
Neuleib has been performing with RHP since the ‘80s and Music Guild since the ‘90s, where she’s also played flute in the orchestra. She doesn’t have a preference for straight plays vs. musicals.
“I really enjoy everything,” Neuleib said. Of the new show, she said: “I’m really enjoying the cast. It’s a great cast, we get along really well and Mike Skiles is doing a great job directing.”
“I like being in the round,” she said of Richmond Hill’s cozy 160-person capacity, with the audience on all four sides of the stage. “I think it’s a more intimate concept, so that you get to feel the audience and involvement and everything while you’re out there. With a musical, it is a little bit different because you have the orchestra pit between you and the audience. And plus, that’s such a huge stage, you get out there and you feel quite a bit smaller on stage.
“But I do like Richmond Hill, the intimacy of that,” she said.
Veteran flutist and choir director
Neuleib played principal flute for the Knox-Galesburg Symphony for 25 years, before retiring in 2018, and she has been choir director at Geneseo’s First Congregational Church for 43 years. Her full-time job, over four decades, has been financial advisor at LPL Financial in Geneseo.
In “Drinking Habits,” she plays one of the nuns, Sister Augusta, and her partner in crime is Sister Philomena. They make wine to sell to the locals, so they can keep the convent going, unbeknownst to Mother Superior.
Neuleib described her character as kind of bossy.
“She kind of bosses Philomena around but but I think she’s committed to her religious beliefs and everything, and that comes across to them,” she said. “It’s just such a fun show.”
A 2017 review at BroadwayWorld.com called it a “door slamming farce that will keep you laughing for the two hour running time. While DRINKING HABITS isn’t great literature, it certainly proves to be very entertaining. The laughs flow through the evening like the sisters’ wine,” the review said.
Mike Skiles (Geneseo) directs the RHP production. The staff includes stage manager Bradyn Jaeger (Annawan), set builder Jim Skiles and set painter Marie Skiles (Colona), light & sound designer/operator Jennifer Kingry, costumer Ann Keeney-Grafft and specialty painter Dana Skiles (Geneseo).
On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m. Sundays are 3 p.m. matinees with the doors opening at 2. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling the Richmond Hill box office at 309-944-2244 or by visiting rhplayers.com.
Late seating is not permitted; no one will be admitted to the theater after the show has started. Admission to all performances is $12.
An audio description performance will be held Friday, April 1. Richmond Hill also offers Assistive Listening Devices, which can be requested at the time that reservations are made.