But a spokesman for Troupe America, the show's producer, says the singing voices are not enhanced in any way. So the ladies are not only good actors, but they're also good singers.
The formula in the “Church Basement Ladies” saga — and it's a good one — is well-established. The ladies crack jokes and every few minutes break out into song.
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas" is playing this week at the Capitol Theatre.
Many of the chuckles are laughs of recognition. Such as when one of the ladies walks in from the cold with plastic bread bags on her feet.
Quite a few of the gags focus on the differences between Catholics and Lutherans. Fifteen-year-old Beverly says that playing Mary in the Sunday School Christmas program is easy because Lutherans don't dwell very much on Jesus' mother.
“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas” takes place on Dec. 19, 1959. There's little plot to speak of, other than that the characters are preparing for the Christmas program. And, oh yes, the pastor's wife has been dead for two years, and someone new has entered his life.
But it is fun to take a trip back to 1959. The basement is painted in the ugliest green you've ever seen. On the wall is “Grace,” the famous portrait of a bearded man praying at mealtime. Through the windows, you can see old-fashioned window wells.
The cast includes four females — three church basement ladies and Beverly, the daughter of one of the women.
While watching the Sunday performance, the thought occurs that it would be good to have at least one more church basement lady on hand. But financial realities probably prohibit that. And really, the story is told sufficiently with the four women. We also get to know a couple of other characters who remain offstage. The five people in the show bring back regular reports as plans proceed for the Christmas show.
Those five performers are so professional that it's hard to pick a favorite character. The most amusing, by far, is Nikki Savitt, who plays Mavis. She generates many of the big laughs.
Lisa Bark is also wonderful as Beverly, the daughter of Karin Engelson. Beverly fears that she plays Mary in the program only because her dad owns the John Deere dealership.
Autumn O’Ryan plays Vivian, who upholds tradition at the church. Many of the laughs are at her expense. But as the show continues, we find that her character is more complicated than her look of disapproval would suggest.
Kevin Grastorf has a fine singing voice and the right personality to play the pastor, who always seems to have a cup of coffee in his hands.
Carrie Saloutos plays Karin, the most agreeable member of the group. She provides the right tone for the character, and also does a nice job of dancing late in the show.
Bark and O’Ryan, incidentally, were at the Capitol earlier this year with “Church Basement Ladies: A Second Helping.”
Other incidental information: Grastorf and O’Ryan are married.
The “Church Basement” shows mine the same comic territory that Garrison Keillor does every Saturday evening. But that’s OK. Nowhere is it written that one man has exclusive rights to jokes about lutefisk, hot dish and the accidental death of a student's 4-H project.
‘Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas’
What: Touring production presented by Aberdeen Community Theatre.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 415 S. Main St.
Remaining performances: Today at 7:30 p.m. and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Admission: Tickets are $30 in advance and $32 at the door.
To charge tickets with a credit card: Call 605-725-2697.