Monday, May 30, 2011

Church Basement Ladies at the Marcus Center

Cast includes Jenny Wanasek, Norman Moses and Rhonda Rae Busch

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Based on the popular book Growing Up Lutheran, the musical Church Basement Ladies has a built-in appeal to those of a certain sect of Christianity. The comedy of a group of women who prepare meals in a church basement also has a very down-to-earth appeal to a group of theatergoers who rarely if ever see representations of themselves onstage.

While the various production of the musical that have been staged have never resulted in huge runaway box office success, the musical story of a group of ladies hanging out in a church basement has achieved a cult or . . . um . . . sectarian following.

The show makes its Milwaukee premiere at the Marcus Center in June. The cast of the local production includes:

Beth Mulkerron as Signe Engelson, daughter of Karin Engleson, played by Kay Stiefel. Mulkerron has shown up in quite a few First Stage shows recently. Stiefel has an extensive history in local theatre, but not quite as much as Norman Moses, who plays Pastor Gunderson. Moses has been performing in and around Milwaukee for nearly half a century. He's one of the few active actors in town who can list the Melody Top in his resume. With a cast also consisting of honorary Rhode sister Rhonda Rae Busch and Jenny Wanasek, there's a real sense of community about the cast which should serve the production well. This is, after all, a musical comedy about the type of community that comes with a small-town Midwestern church. The cast member's overall familiarity with each other should make the premiere Milwaukee production kind of unique. It might even be appealing for those of us not in its target audience . . .

Church Basement Ladies runs June 23rd - August 7th at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. For ticket reservations, call 414-273-7206. 

 

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