Guest Column: Play delivers a good helping of Minnesota humor

Published 7:09 pm Friday, October 18, 2019

Stage Right by Matthew Lehman

Matthew Lehman


If you like a good helping of Minnesota humor with your musical, Albert Lea Community Theatre delivers with “A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies Sequel.” This musical, hilarious and well written, is a follow up to “The Church Basement Ladies.”

Newcomer Beverly Singe (Engelson) Hauge joins her mother, Mrs. Elroy Engelson (Karin), the Widow Vivian Snustad, Mrs. Gilmer Gilmerson (Mavis) and the Pastor in the church kitchen basement, where each encounter adversities and joys. Through it all, they lean on each other for support.

The ensemble’s chemistry fires on all the right notes, as they sing, dance and share the story of their lives together at their little Lutheran Church in northern Minnesota. Individually, each actor did a phenomenal job at portraying the ups and downs of kitchen life in the church basement.

Kristi White (Beverly) gives an innocent performance with genuine tenderness. She blossoms beautifully in the end.

Sue Wiersma (Karin) plays that perfect mom and shines in her jazzy number.

Lisa Sturtz (Vivian) sings with gusto and delivers some of the best lines with comedic wit. One line that caught my attention, “Mark my words, when Lutheran’s start clapping, nothing good is going to happen!”

Elizabeth Harty (Mavis) hams up her portrayal of the farm wife with amusing expressions as she tells stories about the farm animals.

Lynn Berven (the Pastor), with resounding presence, resonates as the fun-loving pastor, who shepherds the little flock of basement ladies with a coffee cup in hand. He can rock out a song or two.

The director, Rory Mattson, did an excellent job at bringing together all the nuances of Minnesota Lutheranism this musical could dish out. The music director, Barb Lang, and the whole crew made all the workings of the musical run like clockwork.

Finally, this musical is worthy a see at the Marion Ross theater this October — for it is pieced together like a quilt found memories. This is most certainly true.

Matt Lehman is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church.