The Church Basement Ladies musical comedy at La Comedia Dinner Theatre.
REVIEW BY MIKE WOODY
Ever eat so much of the same thing that it starts to become less appetizing? It happens to even the best dishes. On the third or fourth day of having it for leftovers its freshness and bold flavors has worn off. You still get filled up, but aren’t as satisfied as after the initial serving. The latest and final installment of The Church Basement Ladies in The Last Potluck Supper at La Comedia leaves a similar taste in your mouth.
This is the fourth serving of The Church Basement Ladies and anyone who enjoyed the previous shows will savor this one. The Last Potluck Supper is made with top quality ingredients and is sweet without being too sugary. I feel like I know all of the characters as I’ve seen them more in the last few years than some of my relatives. I almost consider myself a member of their church, and I’m not even a Lutheran. At least I’ve never fallen asleep on Pastor Gunderson (Chris Kramer).
This installment includes a series of flashbacks, detailing key events in the church’s history and in the relationship between the ladies. No matter the decade Vivian (Denise Cox) is the yeast that always rises to the occasion and holds everything together. She is the star of the talented ensemble, who can shoot out one liners faster than any name brand appliance can cut vegetables.
Equivalent to pairings in the kitchen like salt & pepper, rosemary & thyme, and peas & carrots (yuck) is Vivian and Mavis (Claire Theiss Hurley). Each are strong on their own, but reach their full potential when together. We see that their initial meeting was not so pleasant, but they soon learned how to coexist.
Also returning is Becky Barrett-Jones as Karin who creates a real masterpiece in the kitchen with her singing of “We Move On.” With her vocals she has more talents in the kitchen than even Gordon Ramsay possesses. Karin’s daughter is Beverly (Malerie Jo), who when not chasing after her own wild kids is gaining valuable wisdom from the Church Basement Ladies about cooking and all other areas of life.
A highlight for me in each of the Church Basement Ladies productions has been Kramer as Pastor Gunderson. This time he also fills a number of other parts, such as an auctioneer, an old Scandinavian, and even dons a dress for a most memorable appearance.
As we’ve grown to expect, there are a number of laughs scattered throughout the show, but perhaps none bigger than in the opening scene when Vivian and Mavis end up in an awkward physical position with each other. All the standard jokes from the previous versions are often present such as Vivian wearing plastic bread sacks over her boots, Mavis needing some extra Oooomph to open the door to the furnace, and everyone ducking while someone waves a utensil around.
In addition to “We Move On” another musical high point for me was the singing of “An Old Wooden Spoon,” by Vivian and Beverly. It’s a story that touches the heart and is beautifully done by the duo.
If you have seen any of the previous installments of The Church Basement Ladies, don’t miss the finale, just don’t expect much of anything different as the recipe was never changed. The Last Potluck Supper is served through October 31.
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