On Stage

‘Church Basement Ladies’

A delicious comedy is on the menu at Russellville Community Center


RUSSELLVILLE — Good times are cooking over in Russellville this month.

Russellville Community Center, partnered with Preston Dildine Presents, announces the return of their dinner theatre spring fundraiser.

After a two-year hiatus following their production of “Fractured. An 80s Fairy Tale Musical” back in 2020, the community center is excited to present the popular musical “Church Basement Ladies,” opening Friday.

“Church Basement Ladies,” a celebration of the church basement kitchen and the women who work there, features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church.

From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, the book and music give us a touching, funny look at their lives as we see them handle a record-breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter Fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding.

They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the pastor on due course while thoroughly enjoying, (and tolerating) each other. The moments in this show are incredibly relatable, with songs such as: “Personal Tropical Isle,” “Get Down to Business,” “This Is Most Certainly True,” and more.

Funny and down to earth, audiences will recognize these ladies as they begin to see the church year unfold from below the House of God. This is most certainly true.

Co-directed by Preston Dildine and Mahlon Nevitt, this production team has compiled a terrifically talented group of women. Local theatre legend and longtime postman Nancy “Nan” Rodenbeck leads the team as Vivian, the stern matron of the kitchen. Mary Kathleen Keller stars as Karin, the second in command, and Vivian’s direct competitor. Lora Burris, another Sugar Creek Players and Russellville Community Center favorite, stars as Mavis, the ever-overworked farmer’s wife. Newcomer to the Montgomery/Putnam County stage is Lillian Meagher as Signe, the smart-mouthed daughter of Karin, home from university in “the cities.” Stepping back into the role of the frazzled Pastor Gunderson is Dildine, having just played the role in Michigan this past fall. Molly Day joins the team as their rehearsal accompanist, with Dee Osterhoudt co-producing, Dennis Obenchain on set, Linda Kingry on lights, and Ron Keedy stepping in as technical director.

Special thanks to the show’s sponsors: Hive Realty, Angie Williams Realtor & Broker, Brothers Pizza, Blake’s Electric, and Jeff Neal Paint & Body. Thanks also go to the Crawfordsville District Public Library for their support and allowing the use of their meeting rooms for rehearsal space, as well as the Crawfordsville Parks and Rec Center for their emergency assistance.

“Church Basement Ladies” runs for one weekend: March 17-19. On Friday and Saturday, doors open at 5:30 p.m., the meal begins at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. On Sunday, doors open at 11:30 a.m. with the meal noon and the show at 1 p.m. And just like any church dinner ... there’s a different meal every night. The menu for each night is as follows:

• Friday: Variety of soups and sandwiches, crackers, relish tray, desserts, drinks

• Saturday: Boneless pork chop, mashed potatoes, buttered corn, slaw, roll & butter, desserts, drinks

• Sunday: Chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce, roll and butter, desserts, drinks

The cost for dinner and show is $20 (tax included), all ages.

Ticket sales are day-of only. No presale or reservations will be taken for this production. Cash or check will be accepted. They are unable to accept card payments, Apple Pay, Venmo, Cash App, etc. at this time.


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