The divine ‘Church Basement Ladies,’ Opening June 29 at the CRC

Published 5:40 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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Will be directed by original cast member


By Deb Nicklay

OSAGE —“Church Basement Ladies” has entertained audiences in hundreds of venues since the blissfully popular musical comedy opened in Plymouth, Minnesota, in 2005.

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And now, North Iowa crowds and beyond will be able to enjoy the show – either for the first time, or the second, third or fourth, since repeat experiences are as much fun as the first – when the Cedar Summerstock Theatre production opens Thursday, June 29, at the Krapek Family Performing Arts Center at the Cedar River Complex in Osage. 

This edition of the beloved show will have an exciting twist: Greta Grosch, who portrayed the hilarious menopausal Mavis in the original production in 2005, directs the CST production. Grosch has also written scripts for every one of the eight sequels of the show. Grosch said her CST actors – Lydia Kelly Campbell, Tea Doherty, Olivia Reiter, Elizabeth Vichness and Jack Bechard – are among the best she’s directed.

“And they act and look convincingly older,” she said with a laugh.

The show is adapted from Janet Letnes Martin’s and Suzann Nelson’s 1997 book, “Growing Up Lutheran.” The comedy, centered in a rural Minnesota church, features characters seemingly every church-goer knows: those ladies who faithfully labor in the church kitchen among the casseroles and cast iron. While serving meals for weddings, funerals and fundraisers, they also solve problems, debate recipes and offer a big dollop of laughter. As one promotion touted, “You’ll laugh so hard your side dish will hurt.”

College theatre students from across the U.S., chosen through audition, come to Mitchell County each summer to make up the CST troupe that produces four musicals in 10 weeks. The summer, with education at its heart, has proved an artistic springboard for many, who today appear in regional and national productions. The CST, in its sixth season, is headed by founding executive artistic director, Nancy Nickerson Lee.

Lee added that “Church Basement Ladies” has several bus tours coming to see the show – another testament to its enduring popularity.

Show dates: June 29, 30; July 1, 15, 20, 21 at 7 p.m.; and July 2, 16 at 1 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at; or at the door.