28 August 2008

You're Closer to Heaven...

...In The Church Basement...Or at least that's what they told us Tuesday night when we went to see Church Basement Ladies at the Capitol Theater in the Overture Center Tuesday night. And I have to say this is probably my new favorite musical. It was seriously hysterical! Set in Minnasota in the early '60s, it shows snipits of life in the Luthern Church Basement. There are only 5 players, Pastor E.L. Gunderson (William Christopher), Mrs. Lars Snustad (Vivian) (Jean Liuzzi), Mrs. Gilmer Gilmerson (Mavis) (Karen Pappas), Mrs. Elroy Engelson (Karin) (Margaret Curry), and Miss Signe Engelson (Stella Fasanello).

Of course, William Christopher gets top billing on this (because he's, well, William Christopher, but I'll talk about that ina moment.) But lets talk about the ladies for a second. Here's the real meat & potatoes of this production (or lutefisk if you will.) These are 4 distinct ladies, yet they all come together to compliment eachother like Cheezewiz with Olives on Rye.

Vivian is are matron of the kitchen. She's probably been working down there her whole life. She knows all the ins and outs, and hers is a life deep in traditions. She abhores change, and don't ever get her started about "The Cities."

Mavis is a hoot! She's not old enough to be retired (her poor husband is still working, and getting injured! on the farm), but she is an older lady of the kitchen, going through that special time of life (read: menopause.) Mavis knows how to fix almost anything and knows the histories of everyone in the area. She's our comic relief.

Karin (does not rhyme with Marin), is younger tha Vivian & Mavis, but old enough to have a 19 year old daughter. Hers has probably been a life of tradition also, but she has had a bit of a wild side. She's also probably worked in the kitchen all her life under Vivian, and they tend to butt heads, but really, when it comes to the passing of the torch (or dish towel) its Karin who gets the nod. She's fashionable enough, but not so fashionable that one could claim she's been down to "the cities."

Signe is Karin's daughter, who starts college down at the U of M where she has classes with that "Hansome Harry", who's a good luthern, but is often been caught dating "That Catholic Boy" (Horror!) She's younger & hipper, but she still loves to come home and spend time in the Church Basement.

Its here in the basement where we watch these four ladies get ready for their annual Lutefisk Feast, a funeral, the Church Hawaian Fundraiser & Easter party, and a wedding. The music is fantastic, the acting was wonderful, and I haven't laughed so hard for a very long time!
Okay, now I'm going to take my quick moment to gush about William Christopher, who is one of my heros. If you can find a copy of his and his wife's book Mixed Blessings about raising their son who has austism, it is really worth reading. If I could love my kids a fraction of what he and his wife loved theirs, I'd be a wonderful parent. I really liked him in M*A*S*H has Father Mulchahy, I liked him more in this, but I respect him as a father to his sons.

He is really good in this musical, he might not be the best soloist, but his solo was really touching (its about him trying to write the euolgy for their janitor who passes away.) He's got great comdic timing and a whole lot of energy! I read somewhere that he's now 75, but he jumps around stage like a 35 year old. It was really cool to be like 5 feet away from him.

And I'm not kidding when I say we were 5 feet away... check our where our seats were!

See that front row center? That's were our seats where. That's the magic of going on a Tuesday and getting a presale code in your email box and buying tickets early. It was so cool! It was almost like being in the play. There's no orchestra pit, so literally we were right there. I could see every facial expression, every twinkle in their eyes. It was awesome.

We had such a great evening, and I totally recommend this to anyone who gets a chance to see it. It was one of our best date nights ever!


Lisa said...

Great seats! I can totally picture half the conversations, having listened to Prairie Home Companion so often (also frequently follows Lutheran life in Minnesota) and I can tell that the play was hi-larious. Not sure if it'll come down this way, but hey.

Alan and Denise said...

Sounds like great fun, and one we would enjoy seeing also. Glad you had a fun time!

Jenny said...

Sounds like fun. I was going to ask you about the Father Mulcahy status update on facebook. Now I know.