Church Basement Ladies, the Musical, to Get Chicago Premiere With "M*A*S*H" Star

News   Church Basement Ladies, the Musical, to Get Chicago Premiere With "M*A*S*H" Star William Christopher, known for playing Father Mulcahy on TV's "M*A*S*H," will star as a Lutheran church pastor in the Chicago premiere of the new musical comedy Church Basement Ladies, Sept. 10-27 at The North Shore Center for Performing Arts in Skokie, IL.

The musical "mixes the silliness of Nunsense with the homespun humor of 'A Prairie Home Companion,'" according to producers.

Curt Wollan will direct the show that was a smash in Minneapolis, where it played for 130 weeks. It's based on the best-selling book "Growing Up Lutheran" by humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson. The libretto is by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke, with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen.

Church Basement Ladies is billed as "a celebration of the church basement kitchens everywhere and the wonderful, unsung women who work there. Set in 1964-65, the show is a funny, heartfelt reflection on the four women who tirelessly prepare the food and solve problems for the congregation at a rural Minnesota church."

The title characters include "the elderly matriarch of the kitchen, a young bride-to-be, a jack-of-all trades farm wife and the best cook in the church."

Together, "the ladies stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the Pastor on due course as they cope with the changing world. In the span of a year, they plan a record-breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding feast." The cast includes Evanston native William Christopher as Pastor E. L. Gunderson, Margaret Curry as Mrs. Elroy Engelson (Karin), Stella Fasonello as Signe Engelson, Jean Liuzzi as Mrs. Lars Snustad (Vivian), and Karen Pappas as Mrs. Gilmer Gilmerson (Mavis).

The creative team includes choreographer Wendy Short Hays, prop designer Gary Breitbach, sound and video designer Mark Brodin, musical director Drew Jansen, original set designer Jerod Paul Grohs, light and scenic designer Scott R. Herbst, and costume designer Beth Nistler.

For tickets, call The North Shore Center for Performing Arts at (847) 673-6300 or visit www.northshorecenter.org. For more information on the show, visit http://www.cbl-chicago.com.