Thursday, July 22, through Sunday, August 1
Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, 311 Riverview Drive, Clinton IA
Based on the beloved Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson book Growing Up Lutheran and an ever-popular stage entertainment for more than 15 years, Church Basement Ladies serves as the latest musical-comedy presentation at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, its 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 that it has inspired no fewer than seven stage sequels, and audiences will no doubt recognize its sprightly ladies as they witness the church year unfold from below the house of God.
Directing Church Basement Ladies is the Clinton Showboat's former artistic director and longtime area favorite Jay Berkow, whose previous musicals for the venue have included Anything Goes, Beauty & the Beast, and The King & I, and who appeared as an actor in productions including Cabaret and Oliver! “The homey cheer, charm, and intimacy of this group of Midwestern church volunteers," says Berkow of his latest Showboat offering, "will bring warm memories and gentle smiles to the Clinton community. Church Basement Ladies lets the audience share in the goings-on deep down in the basement of the East Cornucopia Lutheran Church. These are people we all recognize from our small towns and cities throughout the Midwest.” Berkow's presentation stars Lisa Crosby Wipperling as Karin, Ava Schmidt as Signe, Phaul Fishman as Pastor E. L. Gunderson, and familiar Quad Cities performers Autumn O’Ryan as Vivian and Nancy Teerlinck as Mavis. Harrison Roth, meanwhile, serves as music director, with Heather Bennett as production stage manager and Luke James Cloherty as choreographer.
The Clinton Area Showboat Theatre's Church Basement Ladies runs July 22 through August 1, with performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays and Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Admission is $18-25, and more information and tickets are available by calling (563)242-6760 and visiting ClintonShowboat.org.