AMANA — The church basement Marthas at the Old Creamery Theatre are dishing up a second helping of homespun humor that leaves you wanting thirds.
These covered dish denizens charmed audiences at first glance in September 2010. Then as now, the transitions in their lives mirror the transitions in their regimented roles feeding the masses at the East Cornucopia Lutheran Church of the Prairie in rural Minnesota.
“A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies Sequel” opened to howling laughter from 128 converts in the opening audience on July 26. The show runs through Sept. 2 on the main stage in Amana.
The transitions continue as the ladies, their church and their minister progress from the 1960s to the ’70s. All is not groovy as they prepare meals for the Lutheran League Banquet, the Mission Festival and the congregational meeting, before they tidy things up with a thorough spring cleaning of the kitchen and their lives.
What you need to know:
- What: “A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies Sequel”
- Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana
- When: Through Sept. 2; 3 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
- Tickets: $27 adults, $17.50 students, $12 student rush 30 minutes before curtain; Old Creamery Box Office, 1-(800) 352-6262 or Old creamery.com
- Information: Oldcreamery.com
Anyone can be a Mary, strutting around in high heels and short skirts. It takes a real woman to roll up her sleeves and be a Martha, serving not so quietly behind the scenes.
Resident funnyman Sean McCall is the lone male voice in the show, playing a pastor who’s trying to hold it all together as the ladies are falling apart. He’s a master at physical comedy, channeling Jerry Lewis and Elvis Presley with equal aplomb. He’s met his match in Nikki Savitt as Mavis Gilmerson, a saucy senior with plenty of kick and an earthy world view born on the farm.
Each commands the stage on their own, but when they’re sharing the spotlight, it’s just magic.
Kay Francis sniffs her way through the role of widow Vivian Snustad, former kitchen boss clinging to her Victorian moral code while dipping her toes ever so slightly into the changing tides.
Deborah Kennedy provides the sensible anchor as middle-aged mom Karin Engleson, who’s clearly drifting out to sea. This housewife desperately wants more for her newlywed daughter Beverly (Amy Marie Stewart), who dashed off to the evil “Cities” but longs for a return to her roots.
The music provides a peppy soundtrack to their lives, laced with blues, rock and gospel, as well as the nostalgic “Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger and Clove,” in which Beverly recalls the sweet kitchen memories of her youth.
With a dash of snappy choreography and over-the-top physical antics sifted through gingham and enamelware, the cast and crew have again created a smorgasbord of hugs, sneers and tears — stirring in just enough naughtiness to pickle your herring.