The Candlelight Pavilion Gets Cookin’ with Church Basement Ladies
Based on the novel Growing Up Lutheran by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson
CLAREMONT, CA – A celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, Church Basement Ladies, is a new musical comedy featuring four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and solve the problems of a rural Minnesota church about to undergo changes in the 1960’s. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, we see them handle a record breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fund Raiser, and, of course, a steaming hot July wedding. They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the Pastor on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other as the true “steel magnolias” of the church.
In 1998, Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson collaborated on an autobiography of their own lives. The novel focused on their Scandinavian backgrounds and their time spent growing up in a Lutheran Church. Growing Up Lutheran, What Does This Mean? became a hit in the mid-west and won the Minnesota Book Award for Humor for 1998. The humorous nature and success of the book led to a collaboration with the authors and Troupe America Inc., a mid-west production company. This partnership led to the creation of Church Basement Ladies. Curt Wollan (of Troupe America) contacted Martin and Nelson and proposed that they create a musical comedy based on their book. Martin and Nelson were intrigued by the idea and decided to go ahead with the project.
Wollan then hired husband and wife team-Jim Stowell and Jessica Zeuhlke who then collaborated with singer/songwriter Drew Jansen. At the time, Jansen was well-known for his creation of the music for How to Talk Minnesotan The Musical which had also been directed by Wollan. The creative team used the premise of the book, Growing Up Lutheran, and Wollan’s own experience with true “Steel Magnolias”. His own mother had been a “Steel Magnolia” for her church which even named their new stove in her honor. The show ultimately focuses on the quirky nature of these women who run the church kitchen preparing meals for special events and holidays, all the while keeping the pastor on track and dealing with their own personal issues.
The Candlelight Pavilion has transformed itself into the Basement Kitchen of a 1960’s Minnesotan Lutheran Church, filled with everything that the ladies will need in order to prepare their meals. Funny and down to earth, Church Basement Ladies will take you back to a simpler time in the late 1960’s when what meal to prepare and which apron to wear were the biggest decisions to make in the Church kitchen. Don’t miss this quirky show which is sure to have audiences coming back for a second helping!
Directed by John LaLonde and Musically Directed by Ronda Rubio, the crew brings together an amazing cast including Beth Mendoza as Mrs. Gilmer Gilmerson “Mavis”, Diane David as Mrs. Lars Snustad “Vivian”, Lisa Dyson as Mrs. Elroy Engelson “Karin”, Ashley Green as Miss Signe Engelson and Carey Curtis Smith as Pastor E.L. Gunderson. Candlelight Pavilion audiences will be very familiar with this cast, as all of them are veterans on the Candlelight Pavilion stage. Audiences will remember Mendoza in the Candlelight Christmas Shows, Pajama Game and Always…Patsy Cline, David from Godspell, Dyson from The Will Rogers’ Follies, Green from High School Musical and Smith from My Fair Lady.
Church Basement Ladies opens May 20th at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater. Tickets are available by calling (909) 626-1254, ext 1. Regular ticket prices range from $48-$68 which includes both dinner and show. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more at even lower rates. The Candlelight Pavilion is proud to announce its flexible payment plans to all Season ticket holders; save 10% on season tickets when you book as few as four shows. For more information regarding the 2010 season line-up and ticketing, please visit us online at www.thecpdt.com.
About the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater
Ben D. Bollinger’s Candlelight Pavilion was founded in 1985. Since then, the Candlelight Pavilion has produced over 170 professional shows from classic musicals to contemporary favorites. From Broadway performers to local professionals, the Candlelight Pavilion has an array of talented actors, directors and choreographers that have remarkable credentials.
The production staff has worked for acclaimed companies such as Disney, and has produced shows both nationally and internationally. The Pavilion is a 299 seat house offering fine dining and theater. From cozy round tables for two up front to larger tables of eight, comfortable booths, and even private balcony rooms the Candlelight Pavilion is an elegant place to spend any evening. Dining at the Candlelight Pavilion includes waiter-served meals instead of typical dinner theater buffets. The flavorful cuisine sets a dinner theater standard of its own.