Audiences laugh and learn at Church Basement Ladies production


Mason Thompson

Th stage is set for the show to start Sunday, Feb. 27 for the afternoon productions of Church Basement Ladies in the Young Auditorium.

Mason Thompson, Journalist

The 20th Anniversary Tour of the Church Basement Ladies came to UW-Whitewater’s Young Auditorium with two productions Sunday, Feb. 27, providing a fun learning experience for those that attended. 

Inspired by the books written by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzanne Nelson, the comedy takes place in a basement of a rural church in a small Minnesota town set in the year 1964. It follows four women as they prepare dishes and solve issues related to circumstances happening during those times. They are joined by a fun-loving pastor, who provides some laughs along the way as his new wife provides some new experiences for the church. 

While the storyline follows a group of Lutherans, the storyline doesn’t necessarily follow that throughout and rarely dives into religion, other than a few small jabs on the differences between other religions in comparison. Instead, the story focuses on friendships and change. One instance of this is when the youngest of the four, Signe, starts talking to a Catholic boy, which frustrates the eldest, Vivian. The two often exchange words about change, with Vivian taking a stance that all change is bad and Signe stating that some change is good. 

The comedy also features a few musicals- one talking about the blandness of Norwegian food that they are preparing for one of the holidays. Another includes having a Hawaiian Easter celebration to put money toward a new furnace for the church. 

In the end, Signe winds up moving ahead with marrying the Catholic boy to the delight of Vivian. But on the day of the wedding, the teenager (notably from the Twin Cities to Vivian’s displeasure) was nowhere to be found at the church when the pastor came to look for her. While Signe’s mother searches for Signe, she ends up coming into the basement and locking herself in the furnace room. 

Thankfully, Vivian comes down to the basement and hears Signe’s cries for help, and upon opening the door, sees that Signe had been crying. The two have a deep conversation, ending with the two becoming more thankful for each other, including Vivian’s acceptance that some things must change, even in the church. After all the dramatics, the wedding is a success. 

Overall, Church Basement Ladies is an exciting and entertaining story to follow. Many can identify with some of the hilarious comments they make – whether about age, midwestern culture or the evolution of life through a religious perspective.