Sydney Richardson, Shelley Walljasper, and Kathy Day in “Church Basement Ladies" at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse -- March 6 through April 27.

Wednesday, March 6, through Saturday, April 27

Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 Third Avenue, Rock Island IL

Based on the beloved Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson book Growing Up Lutheran and an ever-popular stage entertainment for nearly 20 years, Church Basement Ladies makes an eagerly awaited return to Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, its March 6 through April 27 run sure to demonstrate why Broadway World called the experience “a completely fun evening” that's “really, really funny.”

A celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, Church Basement Ladies features four distinct characters and focuses on their relationships as they organize the food and solve the problems of a rural Minnesota church about to undergo changes in 1965. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, we see them handle a record-breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding. They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the pastor on course while thoroughly enjoying (and tolerating) each other as the true "steel magnolias" of the church.

Funny and down to earth, Church Basement Ladies has been so successful since its 2005 debut that it has inspired no fewer than eight stage sequels, the most recent of which – Church Basement Ladies in "Plowin' Thru" – had its world premiere at the Ames Center in Burnsville, Minnesota, in September of 2022. In addition to touring nationally, the musicals have been licensed in all contiguous 48 states and Canada, and it is estimated that more than four million audience members have attended Church Basement Ladies and its sequels. On November 18 of 2016, the company celebrated its 3000th performance at Minneapolis' Plymouth Playhouse.

Directing and choreographing Circa '21 latest iteration of Church Basement Ladies is venue veteran Andrea Moore, a formerly long-time member of the theatre's performing wait staff of Bootleggers who has appeared in such productions as Grease, Grumpy Old Men: The Musical, and Cats. Longtime area favorite Ron May serves as Church Basement Ladies' music director, and additional members of Moore's creative team include: production manager Jeremy Littlejohn; stage manager and props designer Kendall McKasson; costume designer Bradley Robert Jensen; lighting designer Heather Hauskins; master carpenter Richard Baker; assistant stage manager and deck captain Richard Baker; scenic artist Becky Meissen; and producer Dennis Hitchock.

Decades-long venue favorite Tom Walljasper reprises his role as Pastor E.L. Gunderson, a character he first performed at Circa '21 17 years ago, and the other members of the Church Basement Ladies ensemble include Walljasper's wife Shelley Walljasper, daughter Krianna Walljasper, Circa '21 Bootlegger and mainstage performer Sydney Richardson, and Kathy Day.

In addition to its 7:30 p.m. public previews on March 6 and 7, Church Basement Ladies runs in Rock Island from March 8 through April 27, with performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 5:30 p.m.; and Wednesday afternoons at 1:15 p.m. All shows will be preceded by meals and pre-show entertainment by the theatre's performing wait staff of Circa '21 Bootleggers, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)786-7733 extension 2 and visiting

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