The Church Basement Ladies Musical Comedies
To date, nine musical comedies have been written, produced, and thoroughly enjoyed by audiences throughout the nation. All of the plays 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 theater 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 ran through September of 2012. The Last (Potluck) Supper, the fifth in the series, began in 2013, with the sixth musical, Rise Up O’ Men, wrapping up a 10-year Church Basement Ladies musical run at the Plymouth Playhouse in 2017. With the opening of You Smell Barn in 2018, performances were moved to the Ames Center in Burnsville, which also hosted 2019’s Christmas show, Hark! The Basement Ladies Sing, which ended January 10, 2020. The first seven shows have been on a national tour throughout the years. And recently added to the bill, the 9th musical comedy, Church Basement Ladies: Plowin’ Thru, which will be running at the Ames Center through February 15, 2023.
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 ... ... more
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, ... ... more
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 ... ... more
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 ... ... more
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 very Lutheran 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.
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 because 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)