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Audience will be transported to mid-1960s' Minnesota where church ladies 'fortify the flock'



CRAIG MITCHELLDYER/BROADWAY ROSE THEATRE COMPANY - Ready to dish the dirt and the side dishes in the Tigard United Methodist Church kitchen are (from left) Debbie Hunter as Karin, Lori Paschall as Vivian, Kymberli Colbourne as Mavis and Zoe Randol as Signe.
Broadway Rose Theatre Company continues its 25th anniversary season with “Church Basement Ladies” at the Broadway Rose New Stage.

In rural Minnesota in 1965, the ladies of the local church fortify their flock with love, wisdom and, of course, the food they prepare in the church’s basement kitchen. Inspired by the best-selling book, “Growing Up Lutheran,” the show mixes together delightful original music, endearing characters and side(dish)-splitting scenes to yield a deliciously funny musical comedy.

The show runs April 15 through May 15, with a preview performance April 14; evening performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sundays and the following Saturdays, April 23 and 30, and May 7.

The New Stage is located at 12850 S.W. Grant Ave. in Tigard. Tickets are priced from $30 to $44 for adults (depending on the date), with discounts available for groups and youth.

For a full listing of show performances or to order tickets, visit broadwayrose.org, call 503-620-5262, or visit the box office at 12850 S.W. Grant Ave., Tigard.

“Church Basement Ladies” features four distinct characters and their relationships as they organize the food and the problems of a rural Minnesota church. From the elderly matriarch of the kitchen to the young bride-to-be learning the proper order of things, the story and music provide a touching, funny look at their lives as they handle a record-breaking Christmas dinner, the funeral of a dear friend, a Hawaiian Easter fundraiser, and a steaming hot July wedding.

They stave off potential disasters, share and debate recipes, instruct the young, and keep the pastor on course while thoroughly enjoying (and tolerating) each other.

The cast features Kymberli Colbourne as Mavis, Debbie Hunter as Karin, Lori Paschall as Vivian, Zoe Randol as Signe and Matthew Belles as Pastor E. L. Gunderson.

Colbourne, who has a bachelor of arts degree from Scripps College, is making her Broadway Rose debut in this show. She works as a fulltime actor and voice talent, toured with The National Theatre of the Deaf and has worked for numerous companies, including Seattle Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Book-It Rep and Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

She was most recently seen as Dorothy Quimby in “Ramona Quimby” for Oregon Children’s Theatre and as Ahab in Bag & Baggage Production of “Moby Dick – Rehearsed.”

Hunter, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, is returning to Broadway Rose, where she last appeared as Carrie Innes in “Whodunit…The Musical.”

Other Broadway Rose productions include “G.I. Jukebox/G.I. Holiday Jukebox” as well as “A Christmas Survival Guide,” “The Gifts of The Magi” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

Hunter has appeared in a variety of roles, both musical and non-musical, at several other area and regional theaters. Some of her favorite roles include Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” at Portland Center Stage, Dallas Theater Center and Lakewood Theater, and Maria in “The Sound of Music,” Yum Yum in “The Mikado” and Laurey in “Oklahoma!” for Musical Theater Company. Playing Charlotte in “A Little Night Music” for Mock’s Crest earned her a 2010 Drammy Award.

Hunter is a founding member of Quintessence Language and Imagination Theater, where she has appeared in numerous productions, and she has entertained aboard several riverboats, performed with the Oregon Symphony and was chosen to participate in the International Cabaret Conference at Yale University. She also released a CD of jazz standards called “Love is in the Air.”

Paschall also is returning to Broadway Rose, where she performed in “Bingo – The Musical.” Some of her favorite roles included Mme. Thénardier in “Les Misérables” with Broadway Rose, Penny in “Urinetown” with Stumptown Stages, where she won a Drammy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and Mother Superior in “Nunsense,” also at Broadway Rose. 

Randol, who is a graduate of Whitman College with a degree in theater and English literature, is a newcomer to Broadway Rose, but she has many Portland credits.

She has appeared in Pandemonium Playhouse Presents: “Doomageddon!” with Action/Adventure Theatre, “Blood on the Books or The Powell’s Play” with Northwest Theatre Project, “Anything Goes” with Lakewood Theatre, “Macbeth” with Portland Actors Ensemble, and “Soul Harmony” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Stumptown Stages.

She also has credits in Los Angeles, including “Over the Hedge” with Dreamworks, “Lincoln Heights” with ABC Family and performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, West Coast Ensemble and the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

Inspired by the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the best sellerGrowing Up Lutheran,” “Church Basement Ladies” was written by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke, with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen.

The show is directed and choreographed by Jacob Toth, with music direction from Jeffery Childs. The creative team includes Chris Whitten, set designer; Grace O’Malley, costume designer; Rose Etta Venetucci, lighting designer; Elizabeth Wyatt, sound designer; Liz Carlson, prop designer; Molly Murphy, wig designer; and Jessica Junor, production stage manager.

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