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Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 3/11/2010

'Church Basement Ladies' dish out gentle laughs

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The popular show Church Basement Ladies comes to the Stranahan Theater next week.

Written by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke, the show centers on four distinct characters who work behind the scenes in a rural Minnesota church in the mid-1960s. Vivian Snustad rules the kitchen; Karin is her chosen successor; Mavis is the trustworthy go-to woman, and Signe, Vivian's daughter, is a little too modern to be trusted. They work together as seasons and circumstances change, handling a monster Christmas dinner, the funeral of a friend, a fund-raiser, and a hot, sticky July wedding.

The gentle comedy, which celebrates the church as an integral social aspect of life, is based on the writings of Janet Martin and Suzann Nelson, authors of Growing Up Lutheran, Just How Much Scrap Lumber Does a Man Need to Save?, and other humorous works.

"Church Basement Ladies" is scheduled at 2 and 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. The evening show is a benefit for the Lutheran Homes Society. Tickets range from $25, $30, and $35. Information: 419-381-8851.

The Toledo Repertoire Theatre winds up its 2009-10 EdgyRep Reading series Saturday with Wallace Shawn's The Designated Mourner.

Set in an unnamed Western country undergoing political upheaval, the play centers on Howard, a respected poet whose early political essays lead to his murder by the repressive government. Howard's daughter, Judy, is arrested and imprisoned. And Judy's husband, Jack, a bitter English professor who is generally sympathetic to the government, suffers a nervous breakdown. When he recovers, Jack learns that Judy has been killed and he is the lone survivor of Howard's literary circle.

"Woven out of three monologues, Shawn's play is a masterful drama about the self, politics, and the pursuit of aesthetic subtleties in brutal times," according to Lee Krahenbuhl, the Rep's artistic director.

EdgyRep Readings are presented with minimal staging and are designed to introduce plays far out of the mainstream for Toledo audiences. Directed by Matt Kizaur, the cast comprises Ed Burnham as Howard, Kate Abu Absi as Judy, and Jake Gordy as Jack.

"The Designated Mourner" will be presented in Trinity Episcopal Church at Adams and St. Clair streets. The performance will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, with a reception at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Information: 419-243-9277.

North Coast Theatre, founded by Christine Child, reopens Murders at Little Wotting tomorrow in the Oliver House.

Originally presented in 2008, the Agatha Christie-style whodunit is a comedy about actors who hijack the experimental theater piece they're supposed to be working on and turn it into a traditional drawing-room murder mystery.

Child, who also wrote the show, directs a cast composed of Caribbea Danko-McGhee, Julian Garcia, Nathaniel Hicks, Madge Levinson, Matthew Taylor, and Matthew Wikander.

The show is geared to those ages 10 and older, Child said, labeling it fun and not at all scary.

North Coast Theatre presents "Murders at Little Wotting" at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through March 27 in the South Wing theater in the Oliver House, 27 Broadway St. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students. Information: 419-255-0416.

The Vagina Monologues is scheduled at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Freed Center for the Performing Arts at Ohio Northern University in Ada.

Based on interviews that playwright Eve Ensler conducted with more than 200 women about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against women, the play was first performed off-Broadway in 1996 and has become a staple of regional and community theaters. Ensler each year adds a new element to the play, and this year's is a sequence on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where United Nations officials have said the prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women is "almost unimaginable."

Saturday's performance will include an art exhibit, a silent auction, and a postshow discussion. Sunday's performance will be followed by a postproduction party. Proceeds from the weekend's activities will benefit Lima's Samaritan House, a women's shelter. Tickets are $5. Information: 419-772-1900.

•Neil Simon's classic comedy The Odd Couple opens tonight in the Fort Findlay Playhouse, 300 West Sandusky St., Findlay. Wes Parker and Patrick Davis play, respectively, the fussbudget Felix Unger and the slob Oscar Madison, unlikely roommates whose differences spark a lot of silly situations. The production is scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturday through March 20, with a matinee at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 from Findlay's Arts Partnership, 419-422-4624.

•Southbriar Restaurant, 5147 Main. St., Sylvania, will host a dinner theater starting at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. It's Murder, Begorrah, presented by Random Acts, has a weeping Irish widow trying to figure out who's responsible for the untimely deaths of her husbands. Tickets are $37.50, which includes a full meal and the show. Information: 419-517-1111.

•Finnegan's Farewell, an interactive musical comedy, will be presented as a dinner theater in the Sandusky State Theatre, Sandusky. Written in the same vein as Tony and Tina's Wedding, the show starts out in the "Buckley Funeral Home and Taxidermy" (126 Columbus Ave., Sandusky), where "services" will be held for Paddy Finnegan, who won a fortune in Atlantic City but fell off a ladder and died before he could enjoy his wealth. The "wake" will take place in the State Room of the theater (107 Columbus Ave.), where Creative Cuisine will serve an Irish-themed meal and mourners will celebrate Paddy's life. Two problems: the corpse is missing and the reading of the will is likely to cause some unhappiness. Tickets for dinner and the meal are $42; performances are at 2 p.m. today and Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. tomorrow, and 7 p.m. Saturday and Tuesday. Information: 877-626-1950.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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