VENICE THEATRE’S CABARET SERIES PRESENTS CHURCH BASEMENT LADIES
BASED ON THE BOOK GROWING UP LUTHERAN, THIS MUSICAL COMEDY IS A HEAVENLY TREAT
(Venice, FL) Ten years ago, authors/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, the creators of the best-selling book Growing Up Lutheran, joined forces with Twin Cities-based production company Troupe America, Inc. and its Executive Producer Curt Wollan to turn their material into a musical comedy called Church Basement Ladies. Since it began in Minnesota, the show has had a West Coast production, a national tour headlined by iconic television actor William Christopher (aka M*A*S*H’s Father Mulcahy) in the role of the pastor, and has been performed by numerous regional theatre companies. Venice Theatre will present its version on the Pinkerton stage from Friday, Oct. 2 through Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. The closing performance is already sold out. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $28 for adults, $13-$15 for students and are on sale now at the theatre’s box office, online at www.venicestage.com or by phone at 941-488-1115. Discounted rates are available for groups of 20 or more.
The Church Basement Ladies’ popularity has resulted in a franchise: Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping, which featured Barry Williams (aka Greg Brady) in the Pastor role; Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas; The Church Basement Ladies in A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement; and The Church Basement Ladies in The Last (Potluck) Supper. Through these shows Wollan and his creative team have celebrated the women who work so hard and with such dedication in the church kitchen whether they be Lutheran, Methodist, Jewish or Catholic. Wollan explained, “I know about these ‘Steel Magnolias’ of the church, because my mother was one of them while I was growing up.”
Steven Flaa, the director and choreographer of Venice Theatre’s production, is no stranger to these ladies either, having grown up Lutheran in Minnesota. “I’ve been coaching my actors in their Minnesotan, making sure they don’t lapse into an Irish brogue, and teaching them about Scandinavian delicacies like lutefisk, lefse and Watkins nectar,” says Flaa.
Church Basement Ladies features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen (played by Dawn Carpenter who also played the role at the Charlotte Players last year) to the young bride-to-be (Elicia Sacco, a recent theatre graduate from Rollins College) learning the proper order of things, the book and music give us a touching, funny look at their lives as 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 (played by Paul Mullen) on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other. Funny and down to earth, audiences will recognize these women as they begin to see the church year unfold from below the House of God. As they used to say in the Lutheran Catechism, “This is most certainly true!”
Tickets for Church Basement Ladies and all Venice Theatre shows and events through June 2016 are available at the box office at 941-488-1115 or online at www.venicestage.com. Venice Theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. on the island in Venice. The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and one hour before all performances.
CHURCH BASEMENT LADIES
Inspired by the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the best seller Growing Up Lutheran
Book by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen
Director: Steven Flaa
Music Director: Chris Bott
Choreographer: Steven Flaa
Stage Manager: Blake Billington
Scenic Designer: Aran Graham
Lighting Designer: John Andzulis
Costume Designer: Chelsea Sorensen
Mavis: Cara Herman
Vivian: Dawn Carpenter
Karin: Laurie Colton
Signe: Elicia Sacco
Pastor: Paul Mullen
140 W. Tampa Ave
Venice, FL 34285
TICKETS: 941-488-1115 | www.venicestage.com
Venice Theatre is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making a dramatic impact on all stages of life. The second-largest of 10,000 community theatres in the United States, it is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. in Venice, FL. Its MainStage offers seating for 432 patrons and features musicals, plays, concerts and special events. Its Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre seats 90 patrons and is home to the theatre’s “Generations,” Stage II and Cabaret Series. In addition to providing entertainment to the community, Venice Theatre offers a wide range of education and outreach programs for children and adults.