The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 30, 2011

Holiday treat | 'Away in the Basement' will be staged at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center


— Laughter and love will meet for a holiday treat.

“Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas” will be presented at 3 p.m. Dec. 18 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center in Richland Township.

The women are back to share their hilarious holiday antics and stories in a new musical comedy.

The show is the third installment in the highly successful and nationally acclaimed musical comedy series, including “Church Basement Ladies” and “Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping.”

This time, it’s a Saturday morning in 1959, and the children are rehearsing in the sanctuary of a small-town Lutheran church in northern Minnesota for the evening’s annual Sunday school Christmas program.

The women are in the church basement finishing up the goodie bags and putting the final touches on the nativity.

Then, anything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

The children are getting sick one by one, and Mary doesn’t want to play her role anymore, so the women have to take over.

Curt Wollan, who directed the previous two shows, also is directing “Away in the Basement.”

“It was originally my idea to translate the books into a musical, and it worked,” Wollan said.

“We now have a fourth one, ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement.’ ”

The plays are inspired by the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including “Growing Up Lutheran,” a best seller.

“Away in the Basement” was written by Greta Grosch, with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen.

Wollan said the play’s music includes “Reindeer Rendezvous,” a traditional Norwegian Christmas carol and “Away in the Basement.”

“I Think You’d Like Her” is a song sung by the church’s pastor to his late wife, asking her permission to let go because he has met someone new.

“The new woman is a new parish worker who is bringing in new ideas and upsetting the old guard,” Wollan said.

“The pastor’s song is a tender moment. The play also has its dramatic moments. It’s not all comedy.”

Wollan said “Away in the Basement” has played for two seasons at the Plymouth Playhouse in Minneapolis, and went on tour for the first time last year.

The Church Basement Ladies plays are produced by Troupe America Inc., a theatrical production company in Minneapolis.

Wollan is president and executive producer.

He graduated from Luther College with a degree in speech and theater with an emphasis on directing and received a master of fine arts in directing from the University of Iowa.

Musical comedy

What: “Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas.”

When: 3 p.m. Dec. 18.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

Tickets: $35 and $28.

Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or


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