Comedic Broadway play performs at UW-Whitewater

The Young Auditorium is showing the Broadway comedy “Church Basement Ladies – Away in the Basement” this weekend and Young Auditorium Marketing Director Leslie LaMuro said this show is always popular at UW-Whitewater.

“Church Basement Ladies” is one of the most popular shows that has been at the Young Auditorium said Marketing Director Leslie LaMuro. The trio of ladies will perform two shows, the first at 2 p.m. and a second at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10. Submitted Photo

“We have had the ‘Church Basement Ladies’ perform here in previous years,” LaMuro said. “The show had really high acclaim and people really enjoyed it. We have continued to bring them back because … it is the most popular show we have ever had in the past. Each time we’ve had to add a second show, which generally does not happen [with other shows].”

The play, a Troupe America Inc. production, is the winter installment version of the four-part Church Basement Ladies series. Having come to UW-Whitewater before, the series looks to have another successful showing at the Young Auditorium.

“It is set on the day of the Sunday school Christmas pageant,” Executive Producing Director Curt Wollan said. “The women are trying to settle problems and learn lessons. The world is about to change with it being 1959, so we get to look back and see the things that people thought were important.”

The musical is based on the comical books written by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin. The book, “Growing Up Lutheran,” is about growing up in the Midwest region in a comically refreshing way.

Originating in the Plymouth Playhouse in November 2009, the musical has since gone on to be a top holiday choice. Written by Greta Grosch and directed by Wollan, Troupe America has created a production that, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Celebrates moments that constitute poignant memories for nearly everyone.”

“Everyone knows a church basement lady or is one,” Wollan said. “They’re moms, grandmas and every one of them has a story. It seemed to me that it had a huge audience and turns out it did, because people like stories about themselves.”

As the title would suggest, the play takes place in a Lutheran church basement. The ladies are looking to craft their church’s children’s Christmas pageant. As they prepare for the upcoming program, the ladies, in their own down-to-earth style, create memories of Christmases past and present.

The ladies put together treat bags, bake cookies, create ribbon candies, and finish up nativity pieces. The Church Basement Ladies, known for their humor and comical charm, are also forced to help out when surprises are sent their way.

Troupe America started touring in 1987 and is one of the premier theatrical production companies in the Midwest region. Based out of Minneapolis, the troupe runs the famous Plymouth Playhouse in the Twin Cities area.

“[Troupe America] is one of the bigger companies and they do a great production,” LaMuro said. “This particular production speaks to a lot of Midwestern sensibilities. Almost everyone that has attended church in Wisconsin can probably relate to what happens. We get a lot of church groups that come year after year. It has just been an extremely successful show.”

The play will cost $33 – $26 – $20 for the general public and $16.50 – $13 – $10 for students depending on the seat. Seating will be at a premium, so it is recommended community members get tickets ahead of time. There will be two showings Saturday: the first at 2 p.m. The second showing will be at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s a very appealing show kind of across the board,” LaMuro said. “It’s a fun piece that gets people laughing and [it is] delightful.”