|Tim Shawver, Carolyn McPhee, Kat Bailes, Ali Whitwell, and Barbara McBain|
Photo by Kat Barnes / Arizona Broadway Theatre
Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 2nd.
"In every company or organization there is usually one place that represents its heart or life center. In the musical Church Basement Ladies that heart is the basement of a Lutheran church where a group of ladies prepare meals for church functions. ...Arizona Broadway Theatre serves up a solid production of this charming musical that is filled with a huge helping of heart....the musical is set during the mid-1960s and takes place completely in the underground level of a rural Minnesota church as the women get ready for holidays and events both happy and sad. ...some of the regionally, specific jokes might go over audiences' heads, and the material is a little thin for a two act musical. Also, Drew Jansen's score, which has some fun rhyme schemes, isn't that memorable but it does include a wide range of songs including some rousing group numbers and a few touching ballads.
Rob Watson's clear direction and fun choreography elevate the material. ...Barbara McBain does well in making Vivian, the prejudiced and judgmental elder leader of the group, believable and human. ...Kat Bailes is an absolute hoot as Mavis, the handy and good-hearted farmer's wife...Carolyn McPhee as Karin and Ali Whitwell as Karin's daughter Signe create sympathetic characters ...Whitwell is compassionate and empathetic ...All four women give strong performances of these strong women and have beautiful voices that excel on their songs. Tim Shawver is quite good as Pastor Gunderson. His character has the most moving moment of the show when he is preparing the eulogy for Willie, the church janitor...Full of old-fashioned Minnesota charm, Church Basement Ladies may be a slight show but it is a warmhearted musical and, while the characters may not be that deep and the outcome may be predictable, it does portray a realistic setting and results in a delightful musical. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)