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REVIEW: Church Basement Ladies at Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse

Circa '21

Martin Luther once said: "I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people joyful...after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor."

Well, Luther must be rolling in the clouds in laughter and pride in these stalwarts of the East Cornucopia Lutheran Church, more commonly known as The Church Basement Ladies, a rollicking musical that audiences have been enjoying in some form; there have been a total of 9 scripts about these hilarious gals.

Circa ‘21’s current offering is the original script of this highly popular series and it has in no way lost its appeal since it’s launch in September of 2005; and, if you have ever served a funeral luncheon, sponsored a fundraiser, or hosted a wedding reception at your church you will absolutely recognize these spot on – if satirized – characters. Believe me, I speak from personal experience.

All but one member of this ensemble cast are local jewels in the crown of the Quad Cities theatre scene and one family in particular. Tom, Shelley, and Krianna Walljasper play Pastor Gunderson, Vivian Snustad, and Signe Engleson, respectively, no doubt making this a special treat for them but even more so for the audience. Rounding out the cast are another QC native, Sydney Dexter Richardson, as Karin Engelson (Sydney also performs as a Bootlegger when not on stage) and all the way from New York City is Kathy Day in the role of Mavis Gilmerson. All of these ladies pack a powerful punch of musical chops as well as raucous high jinx. Their harmonies were worthy of the angels.

The Bootleggers warm up theme was based on songs loosely relating to spirituality. The stand out for me was Kirsten Sindelar’s rendition of “Spirit in the Sky.”

I guarantee you will be filled with amazing grace if you take in this delightful show.

Church Basement Ladies continues at Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 – 3rd Avenue in Rock Island through April 22nd with matinee performances on Wednesdays, evening performances Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and early Dinner performances on Sundays.

I’m Chris Hicks…break a leg.