Derby Dinner Playhouse: Church Basement Ladies 2 Review

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I had the opportunity to attend a “Second Helping” of Church Basement Ladies at Derby Dinner Playhouse last week, for the opening of Church Basement Ladies 2! The show was a great way to get together with some great girlfriends and to remember the importance of people like us who volunteer in our community and reach out to others. This musical is about a group of Lutheran woman who reminisce and share in each other’s lives over food in the church basement in Minnesota. But, do not fear; Even if you are not a church goer, a Lutheran, or have not seen the first installment, this show will have you in stiches regardless! 
Among the group in the show, there are 4 funny, emotional, and sometimes over-the-top ladies and one pastor you sometimes feel sorry for! My daddy has always lived in a house with 3 women and 2 female dogs to top it off, so now I know how he felt sometimes! The show brings together stories of a young new mother and how her mom will experience becoming a grandmother, a widow who is finding love again, and all of the changes that occur with the times that were changing in the 1969-1970 timeframe. 

One thing that I love about going to see shows at Derby Dinner is that even though they use a lot of the same actors over and over again, you would never know it for how well they portray their characters and morph into someone you have never seen on that stage before. Tina Jo Wallace probably does the best job of all in this realm. Her physical comedy and her vocal inflections had me laughing all night long. She plays Mavis Gilmerson, a simple farmer’s wife who stays level-headed and just tells it like it is! And her accent was marvelous! One would never know she doesn’t really hail from Minnesota! Elizabeth Loos played Vivian Snustad, a widow too embarrassed to admit she just may have a crush on the new janitor. Her vocals were extremely strong and her hilarious dance moves were not to be matched! Janet Essenpreis had the best wardrobe of them all and was very convincing as the kind hearted mother, Karin (Car en) Engelson. The best move of the night was when her character went tumbling head first into the freezer only to embarrass poor Pastor Gunderson. The pastor is played by none other than the Cary Wiger, who always pulls off funny and sweet roles so well. Michelle Johnson played Karin’s daughter, Beverly, who had to endure being pregnant in the middle of winter! Her solo "Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger & Clove" was a song not to be missed and made you want to relive your childhood memories and the scents that go along with them! 

Directed by Bekki Jo Schneider and choreographed by Barbara F Cullen, the show came together perfectly. The stage was utilized well so that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and the dancing was just enough to be believable that these ladies might actually break into song! The staging utilized vintage appliances and such really well too.

All of this wrapped up into a 2 hours show, along with a fabulous pre-show by the Footnotes and a delicious dinner buffet makes for a wonderful night out. It is a show not to be missed! Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping runs through October 7. Check out their website or Facebook page for all the important details and book early so you don’t miss out! 

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, Indiana 47129