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Salem theater serves another helping of the ‘Church Ladies’

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Published: Thu, February 16, 2017 @ 12:05 a.m.

Staff report


Salem Community Theatre is bringing back the “Church Basement Ladies.”

The theater presented the first installment of the musical comedy last spring, and it was a hit with patrons.

The new production, “A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies Sequel,” picks up the story in 1969, a time when protests over the Vietnam War were raging and women were protesting for equal pay.

And in the rural community of Prairie, Minn., the ladies of East Cornucopia Lutheran Church’s basement kitchen are dealing with changes of their own.

In “A Second Helping,” the ladies handle a high school banquet and a Missionary night with their heartwarming humor and antics.

The musical will open Friday and run for six performances over two consecutive weekends. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets are $15 ($11 for seniors, $9 for students 17 and under); call 330-332-9688. Salem Community Theatre is at 490 E. State St., Salem. Churches can get a special group discount to churches; call for details.

Audiences who caught the show last year felt a bond with the ladies, according to Carolyn Slaven, SCT board president.

“Everyone knows or has known in some form or another a group of hardworking ladies who keep the church basement functions going,” said Slaven.

Pastor Kari Lankford – she is a pastor in real life and the only Lutheran in the cast – returns to the role of Mavis Gilmerson, an able-bodied farm wife who is extremely good-natured, and often tries to dispel any tension in the kitchen by changing the subject or telling a joke.

Lori George takes on the role of the widow Vivian Snustad, who’s husband died very early in their marriage. Tara Holl, last seen on SCT’s stage in the “Rocky Horror Show,” plays Beverly Signe Houck, a newlywed. Ruth Newman plays Beverly’s mother, Karin, the most fashionable of the ladies.

Rounding out the cast is Dave Bedell, who steps into the shoes of Pastor E.L. Gunderson.

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