‘Church Basement Ladies’ to take KCAC stage

Stephanie Bachman

Lead News Writer


The original musical “Church Basement Ladies” that premiered in 2005 at Plymouth Playhouse in Minneapolis was so successful that it spawned five sequel musicals, including their Christmas-themed show, “Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas.”

Two performances of the play will be performed at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

“Church Basement Ladies” was inspired by the books “Growing Up Lutheran” by Janet Martin and Suzann Nelson.

Playwrights Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke wrote the original, and Greta Grosch wrote the other installments. Drew Jansen was the composer for four of the plays, including the Christmas special. Dennis Curley was the
composer for two of the musicals.

The play originally ran for two-and-a-half years with 12 shows a week, including a double cast. Because of the success of the show, five sequels were produced. The latest sequel, “Rise Up, O Men!” has been running at the Plymouth Playhouse since August.

The shows are a celebration of the women who selflessly give their time to their church to help run the kitchen.

Curt Wollan, producer of the show, described the premise of the show and what audience members can expect.

“We all know [church basement ladies],” Wollan said. “They were our grandmothers, our aunts, our mothers, and this was their way of service to their church. They were also best friends and loved each other very much. From the matriarch who runs the kitchen to the young mother, all had their place in this special world.

“[The show] is very funny and the songs are all hummable. [The audience] can expect to laugh and cry and take home some memories they might have forgotten.”

The cast of the show consists of four ladies and one man. The show features humor, singing and some dancing. It gives audience members a glimpse into the lives of women who have dedicated their time to serve their church and community.

Also, Wollan said the timing of the Christmas show is perfect because it can hopefully get the audience in the holiday spirit and “maybe take them away from the problems we face today for just a little while.”

Wollan described it as a nice departure from more traditional holiday shows such as “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.”

John Tsafoyannis is general manager for Troupe America, Inc., which is the touring company that is bringing “Church Basement Ladies” to Indiana.

“It is an upbeat and funny musical for the entire family celebrating the ‘basement’ ladies of the church, their lives, tribulations and hopes,” Tsafoyannis said. “You do not need to be a Lutheran to appreciate the show. In every religion known, there exists a version of a ‘church basement lady.’”