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Church Basement Ladies Musicals

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The Church Basement Ladies Musical Comedies

To date, four musical comedies have been written, produced, and thoroughly enjoyed by audiences throughout the nation. All four are based on Martin and Nelson's books, especially their best seller, Growing Up Lutheran.

The first play, Church Basement Ladies, opened September 8, 2005 at the Plymouth Playhouse (in Plymouth, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis) and closed March 2, 2008. Since then it has been touring nationally.  A week after the first show closed, the sequel, Church Basement Ladies 2:  A Second Helping, opened at the same theatre running through October 2009. True to form, the third play, Away in the Basement, with a church basement Christmas setting, opened a week later at the Playhouse and ran through the holiday season closing at the end of January 2010.  It was repeated at the Plymouth Playhouse during the 2010 holiday season.  The fourth show, A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement, opened in August of 2011 and ren through September of 2012.  And work has begun on the fifth musical scheduled to open in late summer 2013.

Original Cast Recordings of the Music (CD format)

Church Basement Ladies CDChurch Basement Ladies 

Church Basement Ladies, the first show in the series, is a humorous reflection about growing up in an era before women wore pants to church, and before men served in the church basement.  Church Basement Ladies gives you heartfelt, hilarious insights into the lives of those who prepared and served at weddings, anniversaries, funerals and farm auctions.

The songs on this CD reflect these insights.

This CD was recorded in August 2005, just prior to the opening of the first play. Vocals are by original cast members: Greta Grosch, Janet Paone, Dorian Chalmers, Ruthie Baker, and Tim Drake. Keyboards, for this CD, are performed by Drew Jansen who is also musical director of the show. Kyle Nelson was the organist for live productions performed at the Plymouth Playhouse.
Songs on this CD include: Closer to Heaven, The Pale Food Polka, Get Down to Business, Song for Willie, My Own Personal Island, Dead Spread, The Cities, This is Most Certainly True, Sing a New Song, Mother of the Bride, and For Good.

Based on Norwegian-Lutheran humor books written by Janet Letnes Martin  and Suzann Nelson 
Script by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen
Directed by Curt Wollan

CBL-1    $15.95  CD Format

Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping

A Second Helping, the sequel, takes place in 1969 and 1970. The four scenes include getting ready for the Luther League Banquet, preparing for the Mission Festival, the congregation's Annual Meeting, and sprucing up the church and spring cleaning.

Vocals are by original cast members: Greta Grosch, Janet Paone, Dorian Chalmers, Tara Borman, and Tim Drake. Keyboards players on this CD are Drew Jansen, Dennis Curley and Kyle Nelson. They are accompanied by percussionist Matt Weaver and Chris Stauffer playing the bass.  

Songs on this CD include: Everyone Knows a Church Basement Lady, God's Way of Sayin', Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger and Clove, You Never Know, Mary/Martha, Old Dog-New Tricks, My Baby Wants Beef, Get Back in the Game, Vivian's Bad Trip, The Tales of Your Heart, and An Additional Gift.

Based on Norwegian-Lutheran humor books written by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson 
Script by Greta Grosch 
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen and Dennis Curley
Directed by Curt Wollan

CBL- 2    $15.95  CD Format

Away in the BasementAway in the Basement
The CD of the Christmas production was recorded in the Fall of 2009 by five cast members. Unlike the first two productions, this show had two sets of cast members rotating in and out to meet the intensely scheduled calendar of holiday shows. Vocals on the recording are by Greta Grosch, Robbie Mancina, Dorian Chalmers, Tara Borman, and Tim Drake. Drew Jansen, who wrote the music and the lyrics for this show, plays the keyboard on the CD. Other accompanists are Andy Nelson on the sax, Vin Parker playing percussion, and trumpeter Adam Rossmiller.  (The other five actors, not heard on this CD, are: Shannon Herman, Judi Gronseth, Roxanne Britz, Andrea Alioto and Greg Eiden.)
Songs on this CD include:  Away in the Basement, The Unforgettable Christmas Program of 1958, Everybody is a Kid Again at ChristmasTime, Just Not Mary Material, Always One More thing, I Think You'd Like Her, Pińata, Whatsoever You Doo-Wop, Reindeer Rendezvous, and the world's best version of "Jeg er så Glad."
Based on Norwegian-Lutheran humor books written by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson 
Script by Greta Grosch 
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen 
Directed by Curt Wollan

 CBL- 3     $15.95  CD Format


A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement

The songs on this CD center around the "reformation" which was underway in Midwestern churches in 1960, and how the Church Basement Ladies reacted to the changes. Some of their reactions included:  Beverly's first pair of high heels for confirmation; the Pastor announcing his impending nuptials; Mrs. Snustad and Mrs. Gilmerson planning a food booth at the County Fair; and Mrs. Engelson embarking on a spontaneous driving lesson.

Songs include The Boogie Woogie Bulwark, After I'm Confirmed, The Ballad of Mrs. Elroy Engelson, Growing Up, Born to Farm, All Heaven Broke Loose, An Absolutely Perfect Day, Pickle Queen, and That's Lutheran Love.

Based on Norwegian-Lutheran humor books written by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson 
Script by Greta Grosch 
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen 
Directed by Curt Wollan

CBL- 4     $15.95  CD Format

The Last (Potluck) Supper   (This show is running at the Plymouth Playhouse until the end of
June 2014)

Here is the soundtrack from the fifth musical in the Church Basement Ladies series. It is 1979, the day of the church’s Centennial Celebration, and past parishioners have gathered to share hotdish, bars, and stories from the last 100 years. As the women work in the kitchen, these shared memories burst into life through a series of flashbacks.  Travel back to 1897, and meet Vivian’s grandmother, one of the founding members of the church; see Karin as a newlywed, cautiously navigating her way through the politics of the kitchen; and be there on that day, in 1944, when Mavis first barreled her way through the swinging door.  The Centennial Celebration is bittersweet. Times are tough in this small farm community, and hard decisions will have to be made.

ongs on this CD include On the Eighth Day God Created the Church Basement Lady, You Can Learn a Lot about a Lady, The 24-Hour Mom-ba!, Yep, I Think I Do, This Gal, Auctioneer (I, II, III), A Eulogy, An Old Wooden Spoon, and We Move On.

Based on Norwegian-Lutheran humor books written by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson 
Script by Greta Grosch 
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen 
Directed by Curt Wollan

CBL- 5    $15.95  CD Format

Touring Productions of Musicals in the Church Basement Ladies Series...

  (Check back around June 1, 2014 for the Itinerary for the national touring productions)

In February 2005, the first play in the Church Basement Ladies Series opened at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, MN. After the Saturday evening production, a veryLutheran Opening Night Party — sponsored by the local Thrivent branch, "Those Lutheran Ladies", and Reif Center — was held at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

"Those Lutheran Ladies," Janet Martin and Suzann Nelson (holding coffee pot), and Director/Producer Curt Wollan.
All of these plays are smash hits.  Reviews can be found by "Googling" the play titles, and snippets of these shows from different theatres throughout the nation can be found on YouTube.

Church Basement Ladies                  
Photo by Paul Nixdorf                                         Janet L. Martin, Wm Christopher & Suzann Nelson
Some viewer comments:           
  • The play was great!  Everyone said it was even better than the first one (if that is possible).
  • I loved how the play was not a sequel - you couldn't say that one was better than the other becuase they were both different and both great!
  • When Beverly came out in her navy dress (identical to my Kelly Green one from 1969) and sang, my 4-year-old grandson whispered in his dad's ear: "Daddy, she is beautiful!"
  • It was marvelous!  (This was written by a woman in Vintage clothing.  She left Minneapolis about 1:00 am, drove to W. Central MN in the snow, and emailed this at 4:56 am before she left for work in Alexandria.  SN)
  • Congratulations, Suzann, on another hit.  I know this one will run for years!
  • Most enjoyable show of the season! (Grand Island, NE)
  • Terrific, outstanding, fantastic! (Fairbury, NE)
  • Best show I've seen in years! (Story City, IA)
Order by using the 'Place an Order' form or you may order by phone (800 494-9124).  For payment and shipping charges, see 'Place an Order.'

All Caragana Press products are available at wholesale prices to qualified retailers, organizations, churches, schools, and libraries.  Call 800 494-9124 for details.