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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre fills their mid-summer schedule by pulling out the original edition of the Church Basement Ladies series – last seen on their stage in 2010. This beginning chapter is written by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke, and directed by Curt Wollan (who directed the very first production of the show in 2005) with choreography by Wendy Short-Hays.

Set in the mid 1960s, we meet the “pillars of the church”: Vivian Snustad, the senior member of the crew, winningly played by Licia Watson; Mavis Gilmerson, the feisty one in the group, done with panache by Karen Pappas; Dawn Trautman as Karin Engelson, the quietly energetic part of the quartet; and Karin’s daughter Signe, who has some different ideas about how things might be better and who is nimbly portrayed by Lindsay Sutton. Their spiritual leader is Pastor Gunderson, revisited by B&B’s own Eddie Curry in his usual earnest style.

Sing a New Song

Signe (Lindsay Sutton), center, performs “Sing a New Song” in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of “Church Basement Ladies”.

This fivesome, through comedy and song, show life and it’s many changes and challenges, especially as it pertained to the middle 60’s in the U.S. All have wonderful singing voices and a keen knack for the humorous characterizations necessary in this show. It is an enjoyable show to be sure, highlighted by an array of fine physical comedy by Ms. Pappas, and some wonderfully timed reactions by Mr. Curry.

It what appears to be a very franchised brand – not only are the show’s direction and choreography supplied by Troupe America, the entity that seemingly owns the show – the accompanying costumes and musical soundtrack are also included in this production. It all works marvelously well, but is a bit different than most B&B offerings.

This Is Most Certainly True

From left – Signe (Lindsay Sutton), Vivian Snustad (Licia Watson), Karin (Dawn Trautman), and Mavis Gilmerson (Karen Pappas) use kitchen items for instruments as they sing “This is Most Certainly True” in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of “Church Basement Ladies”.

Included in the evening was Chef Odell Ward’s full buffet, this time featuring Barbeque Country Ribs and a wonderful lineup of side dishes. And of course we were also treated to great service by the ever observant and doting B&B staff.

Bottomline: A nice summertime alternative of good fun and good food is on tap at “the Beef”.

Church Basement Ladies continues at B&B through August 21st. Dates and times for performances can be found by calling 317.872.9664 or by visiting http://www.beefandboards.com

  • – Photos by Julie Curry