“The Church Basement Ladies” is back on stage at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre. The show was so popular last fall that BDT director, Michael J. Duran, decided to produce the sequel this fall. There are five Church Basement Ladies sequels, and listening to the crowd’s response to this one, I have a feeling Colorado will eventually be treated to them all.
Boulder’s Dinner Theater has repackaged their venue as the BDT Stage, and you’ll find their brand new logo already on their Facebook page and twitter account. And here’s a hint. If you check in on Facebook when you arrive at the theater you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free dessert.
We missed the first “Church Basement Ladies,” and I was not about to miss the sequel, “A Second Helping.” Thankfully, you do not have to have seen the first play to enjoy this sequel as they are each standalone stories.
This show is set entirely in the basement of a church, and the stage looked vaguely familiar to those of us who grew up attending church potlucks and other church gatherings. I thought they might have entrees such as tuna surprise casserole and meatloaf on the menu for this show, but they didn’t go quite that far.
You can, however, order a Watergate Salad served in a BDT souvenir Tupperware bowl for dessert. If you aren’t familiar with it, Watergate Salad is a pistachio pudding, pineapple, walnut and marshmallow dessert. I’m pretty sure that the last time I ate it was at a church potluck in 1981.
The show is about three church basement ladies or, as they call themselves, Marthas. For those who remember their Bible stories, Martha and Mary were sisters of Lazarus. The two sisters were very different; Martha was a worker bee while Mary enjoyed sitting and listening to Jesus talk.
The production is set in the 1960s, and as the ladies say throughout this musical, “times are a changing,” even in this small Minnesota town and at this small Lutheran church. The pastor, played to perfection by Wayne Kennedy, has even bought a guitar – uff da! (Uff da is a Norwegian expression of surprise or disbelief).
Mavis, Vivian and Karin are content with their chores in the church basement until their lives are interrupted by Beverly, Karin’s daughter who has abruptly moved back from “the cities” and is pregnant. Of course, upon learning of the pregnancy each lady counts on her fingers, behind her backs, how many months Beverly’s been married.
While the production is hysterically funny and there are gut busting laughs, especially for those of us who grew up attending a strict Lutheran or Lutheran-like church, it’s also a sweet and poignant look at the relationship between mothers and daughter and lifelong friends.
I was overjoyed to see Bren Byestone Burron cast as Mavis in this show. I’ve loved Burron since I saw her in the BDT’s first production of “Chicago” in 2003. Burron is now most often seen on stage at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown, but she brought her unique brand of comedy to BDT for Church Basement Ladies and it’s a match made in heaven – no pun intended.
Bren Byestone Burron (as Mavis), Beth Reeves (as Vivian) and Tracy Warren (as Karin) have wonderful onstage chemistry. They’re each gifted stage actors, and Sarah Grover, who was amazing as in last year’s production “The Wizard of Oz,” holds her own on stage with these veterans.
If you enjoy Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon stories, you’ll love “The Church Basement Ladies.” The show opened on September 12 and runs through November 8. Be sure to get there before all the lefsa is gone. Go to www.BouldersDinnerTheatre.com for tickets.
Review also appearing in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.