Dakota Stage Presents

Church Basement Ladies

Directed by Deb Carpenter

May 9 - May 19, 2024
Dakota Stage Playhouse

Church Basement Ladies

May 9 - May 19, 2024

About the Show

Church Basement Ladies is a heartwarming and comedic musical that takes place in a small Midwestern town. The story revolves around a group of women who tirelessly work behind the scenes in the church basement, preparing food and organizing events for the congregation.

The ladies, including the witty matriarch Vivian, the sweet and wise matriarch’s daughter Signe, the enthusiastic and cheerful Mavis, and the sassy and mischievous Karin, form a tight-knit sisterhood as they navigate the joys and challenges of their roles in the church community.

Through a series of vignettes and musical numbers, the play offers a delightful glimpse into the lives of these spirited women. From organizing potlucks to tackling technological advancements and dealing with the occasional church gossip, the ladies bring a unique blend of humor, warmth, and relatability to their everyday experiences.

As the seasons pass and years go by, the Church Basement Ladies support each other through life’s ups and downs, celebrating weddings, consoling during losses, and finding strength in their shared faith and friendship. They embody the heart and soul of the community, embodying the values of dedication, love, and a deep sense of belonging.

Church Basement Ladies is a celebration of the unsung heroes in the church community and the often-overlooked work they do. With its catchy musical numbers, humorous anecdotes, and touching moments, the musical captures the essence of community, the power of unity, and the importance of finding joy and purpose in everyday life.


Book by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke
Music and Lyrics by Drew Jansen


Audition Days

March 17, 2024: 6:00 pm
March 18, 2024: 6:00 pm

Are you ready to watch church ladies finally let loose? Are you excited to see exactly what REALLY happens behind the scenes of all those lutefisk and lefse dinners? Church Basement Ladies is a delightfully warm, wonderful musical comedy to which everyone can relate! Director Deb Carpenter, Music Director Jessica Sester, and Stage Manager Lexi Belile are looking for FIVE energetic and enthusiastic people (4 females, 1 male) to play the heart-stealing cast of Church Basement Ladies. Auditions are being held at Dakota Stage, 412 East Main, March 17 and 18 from 6pm to 9pm. Please bring a short musical piece (no longer than 3 minutes, please!) to perform. Audition excerpts will be available in time for auditions, and a Bluetooth speaker for music, unless you want to sing a capella. Let us introduce this spectacular group! We look forward to seeing you!

Available Roles

Pastor E.L. Gunderson—an agreeable man who knows that the church runs best when the kitchen is happy. Tenor to Baritone. Plays 40’s-50’s+.

Mrs. Vivian Snustad—is a widow and the undisputed (mostly) matriarch of “her” kitchen realm and all within it. First soprano. Plays 60+.

Mrs. Elroy Engelson (Karin)—is second in line to take over the kitchen. She is neat and tidy, and is the mother of Signe, so she senses that change is definitely a-coming. Middle voice, 2 nd soprano or first alto. Plays 40’s-50’s.

Mrs. Gilmer Gilmerson (Mavis)—she is a farmer’s wife and grandma. There is nothing she can’t fix and can jump in and work just about anything (she has to, because her husband is usually recuperating from some bizarre farm accident). She is the most physical of all the cast. Alto. Plays 50’s-60’s+.

Signe Engelson—is the daughter of Karin, and has just started college at the University of Minnesota, all the way in “the Cities”. She visits the church kitchen often, and endures gentle teasing about her romantic prospects. Middle Alto. Plays late teens (starting college age).

Cast & Crew

Arie Morris

Pastor Gunderson

Julie Wolf

Vivian Snustad

Moni Krantz

Mavis Gilmerson

Morgan Nelson

Karin Engelson

McKaela Halvorson

Signe Engelson, Understudy Karin Engelson

Grace Loeb

Understudy, Signe Engelson

Deb Carpenter


Jessica Sester

Music Director

Lex Belile

Stage Manager

Luke Weber

Rehearsal Accompanist

Production Team

Deb Carpenter

Music Director
Jessica Sester

Stage Manager
Lex Belile

Scenic Designer
Brian Nelson

Master Carpenter
Jeremy Lindemann

Lighting Designer
Chris Roemmich

Sound Designer
Frank Vondra

Nancy Gordon

Amanda Perry, Deb Carpenter

Original Choreography by
Jessica Sester

Rehearsal Accompanist
Luke Weber

Tom Chase

Light Operator
Eden Selle

Sound Operator
Izabelle Parker

Production Crew
Grace Loeb
Kylah Anderson
Bethany Belile
Paige Jung
Tallon “Devian” Long

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