Theater group overcomes odds for weekend shows

Jennifer Stultz
A group of Kiowa County thespians (from left) Alyssa Brown as Mavis, Lucinda Libby as Signe, Angelique Libby as Karin, Tricia Oren as Vivian, and Chris Unruh as Pastor Gunderson, will put on the show Church Basement Ladies this weekend in Greensburg. Tickets are available at the door of the Twilight Theatre venue.

GREENSBURG—Overcoming many odds, the cast of Church Basement Ladies will take the stage at the Twilight Theatre in Greensburg for three performances on June 19, 20, and 21.

Director Alyssa Brown was challenged with unprecedented stress in working around overlapping shows, practice limitations because of coronavirus pandemic closures and zoom rehearsals to put together a curtain-ready show.

“The last four months have been unpredictable and unprecedented, but my cast is small but mighty and their tenacity inspires magic,” Brown said.

Church Basement Ladies is a funny and down-to-earth show, filled with laughter-in-tears musical comedy that offers entertainment for all. The show itself is a celebration of the stuff that holds communities together in church kitchens everywhere. Set in 1965, the ladies of the kitchen deal with everything from a Christmas dinner to a friend’s funeral in addition to an ongoing struggle to embrace change as they honor tradition with wisdom, humor, and love.

The Kiowa County cast includes Vivian, the kitchen matriarch, played by Tricia Oren; Karin, portrayed by Angelique Libby; her daughter, Signe, played by Angelique’s real-life daughter, Lucinda Libby; Mavis, the fix-it lady, by Alyssa Brown; and Pastor Gunderson, played by Chris Unruh.

Music for the show is under the direction of Kiowa County Elementary School Vocal Music Director, Amber Campbell. Although music tracks will be used for the show, rehearsal required piano accompaniment provided by Bethany Magnuson.

“Bethany really helped the cast pick out their parts and practice before and after the stay-at-home order. While at home, they practiced with CDs furnished by Brian and Sandy Foster,” Brown said.

Technical support for the Church Basement Ladies was provided by Mike McBeath, Tanner Fulton, and Jaucilyn Arrendondo. McBeath also provided photography and video promotions for the show.

Other crew members include house manager: George Ryan; backstage: Pat Barnes and Rachel Fulton; and make up and dressers: Sarah Christenson and Holly Behee.

Travis Libby, assisted by Lucinda and Rosalee Libby, constructed the realistic basement kitchen, and Brown created a set with authentic props and set pieces provided by friends both in and out of Kiowa County. Thanks to Depot Theatre’s Executive Director, Chris King, Brown gathered an assortment of vintage costumes and props including coffee pots, a wall phone with cord, and pots and pans. In addition, Craig Williams, Executive Director of the Family Community Theatre in Hutchinson supplied the all-important chest freezer for the show.

“People really came through for us,” said Brown. “It has taken months of searching for period pieces to make this all happen, and we couldn’t have done it without lots of help. We really appreciate it,” she said.

Tickets for Church Basement Ladies will be available at the door to better count those who attend in case of limitations. Show times are set for 7:30 on Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 2:30. Adult tickets are $15 and students, $10.

“The show is a testimonial to the tenacity and determination that is still very much alive and well in Kiowa County,” she said. “When the odds are stacked against us, we don’t give up.”