'Church Basement Ladies' return
Touring company to stop for one day, two shows
Friday, November 26, 2010
It’s Christmastime and the church is getting ready for its holiday festivities.
“And out of the basement shall come a Church Basement program of good tidings, great humor and joy!” the news release reports as it announces the production of “a new musical comedy, ‘Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas.’”
That show first was staged in the Plymouth, Minn., Playhouse, just northwest of Minneapolis.
And a touring production comes to Jefferson City next Wednesday, for two performances — 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. — at the Miller Performing Arts Center, 501 Madison St.
“It was, originally, only scheduled to go to St. Louis, as far as Missouri is concerned,” said Rob Crouse, head of the Capital City Players group that’s sponsoring the Dec. 1 visit.
“But they contacted us and said, ‘The way the schedule works, we will be going through there, and we would have a one-day period where we could stop, if you were interested.”
“Away in the Basement” is the third installment of what is growing to be a series of musicals, inspired by the bestseller, “Growing Up Lutheran,” and other books by author/ humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson.
The first production, “Church Basement Ladies,” came to Jefferson City last year.
“Our audiences loved the first one, and we said, ‘Sure, if we can just get it for one day, we’ll take it for one day,” Crouse said, “because everybody seems to love the Church Basement Ladies, and it’s one that nobody will have seen.”
He said the play’s basic premise is popular, especially with Midwestern audiences, because “every church has Church Basement Ladies (and) can’t run without ... that little, small cadre of devoted women who come together whenever there’s a wedding or a funeral or whatever.”
They prepare meals and do other things in the background to help the church function.
“So, I think that’s one thing that everybody can identify with,” Crouse said.
The plays also are popular, he thinks, “And this is what amazes me in this day and age — that this is truly a musical comedy, that you can bring the whole family to and not worry that Junior or Grandma is going to be offended by anything.”
The second production, “Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping,” has been staged at a Kansas City area dinner theater, but not in Mid-Missouri.
The third and newest play, the promotional material reports, “Takes us back to 1959 and the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program.
“In the midst of holiday preparations and sprinklings of love in the air, the ladies — in their witty, down-to-earth style — are creating their own memories from Christmases past and present.”
The story revolves around the planning and production of the Sunday School Christmas Program.
“As the children rehearse up in the sanctuary, several of the ladies ... mend old bathrobe costumes, discuss the politics of who’s going to play the various roles, little do the ladies know what surprises are in store for them,” the promotional material explains.
“Known for their hilarious antics and subtle charm, they are once again called upon to step in and save the day!”
Crouse said Capital City Players’ sponsorship of the oneday, two-show visit involves more than just promoting it.
“We, for example, have made all their lodging arrangements, for the whole troupe — cast and crew,” he said. “And we will provide a volunteer workforce to, when they pull up ... help them get everything unloaded, get it upstairs and get the set put together, in record time, that day.”
And after the evening performance, “striking and carrying everything down afterwards, to load everything up and send it on its way,” Crouse said, “as well as providing (several) people to help run the technical demands of the show — the lighting, the sound and all of that.”
Anyone who wants to volunteer, Crouse said, should call him on his cell phone: 291-9399.
Tickets are $35 each — a price set by the production company — with a $5 per-ticket discount for groups of 10 or more.
Tickets can be ordered in advance, by calling the Capital City Players’ line, 681-9012. Tickets also will be available at the door.
“We don’t get a professional touring company through here (very often),” Crouse noted. “This is kind of a big deal. ...
“This is highly unusual for Jefferson City.”