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Church Basement Ladies

May 12 – Aug 25
Barter's Smith Theatre

“I enjoyed watching my companions rock with laughter and revel in the show.”

Written by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen
Based on the book "Growing up Lutheran"by Janet Letnes Martin & Suzann Nelson

The ladies of the local church fortify their flock with love, wisdom and, of course, the food they prepare in the church’s basement kitchen. Bringing their own special brand of humor, the story of the four women, as they organize the food and solve the problems of their church, mixes together wonderful music, endearing characters, and side-splitting scenes to serve up a deliciously delightful journey. Funny and down-to-earth, you will recognize and embrace these ladies as they witness the church year unfold from below the house of God.

The performance of Church Basement Ladies on June 12, 2019 at 7:30pm will be a part of Barter Days, and we will be partnering with Feeding America Southwest Virginia starting at 5:30pm at Barter Stage II.

Please Note: An Open-Caption Performance of this production will be available on Thursday, July 11 at 2:00pm and Saturday, July 13 at 8:00pm.

Director's Notes

Director's Thoughts — On Church Basement Ladies

Honoring Tradition, Embracing Change

"Change does not change tradition. It strengthens it." -Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Why are traditions so important to us?

Some say it’s because they build strong relationships between generations. Others say its because they bring meaning to our celebrations and help us bond with those we love.

I love tradition because it reinforces that I am part of a family—whether it is my immediate family, my theatre family, or my community, we all have traditions that remind us that we are connected.

But what happens when, little by little, the traditions that were so important to us start shifting? Not saying the Mass in Latin?! Guitars in the sanctuary?! Ham on Thanksgiving instead of turkey?! These changes can be scary. If I lose my traditions, don’t I also lose myself?

Here in the basement kitchen of East Cornucopia Lutheran Church, we honor the ladies who have followed a long tradition of feeding the bodies and spirits of their congregation. They laugh and cry, sing and shout, celebrate the good times and help each other through the bad. They are the glue that holds their community together.

And, whether they know it or not, they are the ladies who teach us how to honor tradition and embrace change at the same time.

If they can do it, maybe I can too...

Nicholas Piper
Director, Church Basement Ladies

Cast & Credits


Mrs. Lars Snustad: Tricia Matthews
Mrs. Gilmer Gimerson: Paris Bradstreet
Mrs. Elroy Engleson: Carrie Smith Lewis
Signe Engleson: Sarah Van Deusen
Pastor E. L. Gunderson: Rick McVey
Church Organist: Dishon Smith


Director: Nicholas Piper
Associate Music Director & Keyboards: Dishon Smith
Musical Staging By: Amanda Aldridge
Set Designer: Hana Lee
Costume Designer: Ashley Campos
Wig & Makeup Designer: Whitney Kaibel
Lighting Designer: Camille Davis
Sound Designer: Tony Angelini
Stage Manager: Sara Douglas
Rehearsal Assistant Stage Manager: Victoria L. Sutton

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