Home Church community Kitchen Fun: New Era performs “Church Basement Ladies”

Kitchen Fun: New Era performs “Church Basement Ladies”


MUSCATINE, Iowa — Set to open its 27th show, New Era Dinner Theater is eager to present a musical close to its own roots, “Church Basement Ladies.” “I’ve been waiting to do this show for a long time because it’s a beautiful tribute to the women who have been cooking for us for 26 years,” director Bill Turner said. A comedy show chronicling the experiences of four women who volunteer in the kitchen of their rural Lutheran church in Minnesota to cook for a Lutefisk dinner, funeral, fundraiser and wedding in the mid-1960s, this show will give to everyone, Lutheran or not, a good laugh and a look at what it means to create community.

Turner began directing the church’s dinner theater shows in 1999 after their former manager left. For his first show, he selected “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and recruited his high school-aged son and his friends to fill many of his roles. Turner has never looked back and has since performed 22 shows.

For years, Turner wanted to perform “Church Basement Ladies,” and in 2020 he finally got the rights to it. Just as he was planning auditions for early spring, theaters around the world closed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing him to wait two more years to finally put it on stage. However, he found the experience of putting it quite enjoyable, as the show’s small but talented cast proved a pleasure to work with. “We have a very good team,” he shared. “What I love about this show is a tight-knit cast that works well together.”

The cast members agreed. Reverend Susan Bantz, Vivian’s opening night understudy, found the play a delightful way to explore and laugh at the very common experiences that Lutherans and just about any worshiper would have had in the years. 1960. “I love it!” she enthuses. It’s got fantastic music, and it’s a fun show, and I’m a Lutheran pastor, and how could I not be on a show about Lutherans? »

For Bridgette Bissell, the friendships of the women in the story and the real-life actors continued to affirm her love for theater and her new home in Muscatine. “I really like the people and the camaraderie – we’re like a little family,” she observed: “It’s really great for my second community show in Muscatine. Everyone has made it a welcoming place, and I love that.

At a dinner show, people can enjoy 1960s-inspired cuisine before the show, including gelatin salad, a hot burger dish, New Era’s famous green beans, as well as rolls, drinks and a dessert. Anyone wishing to attend the October 7 or 8 performance at 6 p.m. or the October 9 performance at 4 p.m. can purchase $30 adult tickets or $20 children’s tickets until the day of the show, or by sending a check to New Era. Lutheran Church, 3455 New Era Road in Muscatine or by calling 563-299-4710 or 563-263-0881 for more information. People can also inquire about show tickets only.

A theatrical experience like no other in Muscatine County, Turner hopes to see a great turnout this fall. “It’s like the field of dreams for the theatre,” he beamed, proudly evoking rural theatre.