Hallelujah! ‘Church Ladies’ are returning to Sierra Rep

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat /

After the success of last year's production of "Church Basement Ladies," Sierra Repertory Theatre is bringing "A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies Sequel" to the Fallon House Theater in Columbia Friday through June 8.

A celebration of the church basement kitchen and the unsung women who work there, the musical comedy picks up the story of the ladies in 1969 - a time of change everywhere, including the basement.

Vietnam protests rage, women demand equal pay, and - in their small Minnesota community - a group of Lutheran women wrestle with changes in their lives.

There's the matriarch who runs the show, her next-in-line waiting to take the reins, the young mother-to-be and the community historian who can rattle off everyone's lineage - as soon as her hot flash passes.

SRT audiences first met the ladies last year when they brought the house down in "Church Basement Ladies," based on the best-selling book "Growing Up Lutheran" by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson.

And you don't have to be Lutheran to relate.

"The thing people respond to is the friendship of the ladies," said Sara Jones, SRT's managing director. "The playwrights just have such a lovely grasp on the women and what's funny and heartwarming about their relationships."

This show's cast includes some audience favorites from the last production: Caitlin Randall, Becky Saunders and Nancy O'Bryan-Shade.

Making their SRT debuts are Paige Herschell and Ryan William Bailey.

The show's director is Michael Misko, last seen at SRT as the Big Bopper in "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story." Joel Scott Shade is the musical director. He recently served as resident music director of Playhouse Merced.

This second installment promises more laughs and lively songs, while it further explores the relationships of the women, Jones said. Together, the ladies navigate a Lutheran League banquet, a missionary night and a Viking's Super Bowl Sunday.

"It's really about the small societies that build themselves to support the greater institutions," Jones said. "It's fun - lovely, silly fun."

For more information or reservations, call 532-3120 or visit www.sierrarep.org.

The Union Democrat
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