Church Basement Ladies ready to woo the faithful

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The Church Basement Ladies know people are putting a lot of faith in them.

Victoria Playhouse Petrolia is getting ready for the opening of the summer season Tuesday with the Canadian premier of Church Basement Ladies. The musical has been playing to sell-out crowds in the United States is making waves here with over 91 percent of the tickets for the performances. The VPP added an extra show just to meet the demand.

Richard Poore, director of performing arts, says a large number of church groups have booked buses to come to the play. Church Basement Ladies has drawn more bus tours, Poore says, than last years’ entire season.

“I do feel a certain amount of pressure,” says Barb Barsky who Vivian.  “It is a lot of responsibility to live up to it…they know it’s going to be funny…but it is not like Neil Simon’s Odd Couple or Carousel, where people say ‘Okay – I know that’ They’re going a lot on faith.

“To do a Canadian premier is a great responsibility,” Barsky says. “If the fans like it will be done at virtually every summer theater in the future because the world will get out.”

Barsky, Gail Hakala, who plays Mavis, and Stephanie Roth (Karin) say they’re working hard to fulfill the expectations.

The play, based on the book Growing Up Lutheran, follows the three woman and they’re young protégé (played by Rebecca McCauley) as they prepare for all kinds of celebrations in the church basement under the watchful eye of their pastor played by Mark Weatherley.

“They love what they do,” says Barsky. “They’re not there because they’ve been conscripted.”

The women in the church basement are a lot like Barsky, Hakala and Roth who say they’re enjoying every moment of working in Petrolia with David Rogers and David Hogan.

“With David and David we feel completely supported as actors,” says Roth. “It’s wonderful.

“We work from 10 to 6 every day, but it’s a lot of fun more so than it feels like work,” she adds. “It gives us the opportunity to play in a room where you feel completely supported. It’s not always like that, in some theatres you just do what you’re told.”

There are still some seats available for Church Basement Ladies which opens Tuesday.