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Pioneer Previews: Time to go to Church with the ladies

Church Basement Ladies returns to Bemidji this Wednesday at 3 and 7 p.m. in the more intimate ballroom of the Sanford Center with their next-to-last segment “A Mighty Fortress is our Basement,” while the finale in the series, “The Last Pot Luck Supper” is now playing to crowds at the Plymouth Theater in the Twin Cities.

Based on the book “Growing up Lutheran” by comedy writers Janet Martin and Suzann J. Nelson and characters created by comedy sketch writer Greta Grosch, who brings to life these good women who work in church basements to bring forth hospitality, love and hotdish with Jell-O salads. The food they cook by rote, the friendly talk keeps the church ladies happily working from 1958 forward 20 years while composer Drew Jensen keeps pace with the timelines of the musicals to the delight of Minnesota audiences.

The fourth in the series “A Mighty Fortress is our Basement” finds the pastor in the middle of the group as usual with the ladies fussing over the food and their lives as the ’60s march on with circumstances that require a bit of refiguring and refining for the group.  

“People really fall in love with the characters,” said producer and director Curt Wollan, “because it is a universal theme that happens to take place in northern Minnesota.”

Wollan, a graduate of Luther College with a major in speech and theater followed up with a graduate degree from the University of Iowa, was well-equipped to found Troupe America, which has played to enthusiastic audiences across the country. It is not too late to order those group tickets through Tony Barber at (218) 441-4018; the group number begins at 10 tickets for a discounted price of $32.50 for rows 11-27 to $35.50 for rows one through 10. Regularly priced tickets are $33.50 and $38.50 for the same rows. The first-timer to these musicals can catch on quickly for it does not take a history of going to see the shows to make them relevant and timely. Tickets are available at the Bob Lowth Ticket Window, Leuken’s Village Foods at both locations and online with Ticketmaster.

•The Park Rapids Area Community Band will present its annual spring concert at 3 p.m. today in the Park Rapids High School with guest artist Myroslava Hawryluk, a clarinetist and Yamaha clinician. Her husband, Scott Hagan, will guest conduct the concert.


•Bemidji Area North American Flute Circle will hold its next gathering from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, 519 Minnesota Ave. NW. Players of all levels and people who want to learn how to play or just interested are invited to attend to celebrate the special music of the North American style flute. Questions, call Georgia at 444-7321 or Chuck at 444-8164.


•Northern Exposure to Lifelong Learning will end its spring season of talks with a program by author Elizabeth Dorsey Hatle on the “Ku Klux Klan in Minnesota,” which will examine the Klan at its height in Minnesota where some 51 chapters across the state that tried to spread hate. The program will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Good Shepherd Church in Clearbrook. This NELL program is offered free of charge, however, donations are gratefully accepted, as is membership in the organization.

•Church Basement Ladies in “A Mighty Fortress is our Basement” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. in the Sanford Center Ballroom.


•Pecha Kucha (chit chat) Night will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sanford Center. PKN is always a free, family friendly and fun event where speakers give presentations that include 20 images shown for 20 seconds each for a total of 6 minutes, 40 seconds.


•“Tom Jones,” an adult comedy with a PG-13 rating will open at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage of Bangsberg Complex for the Arts on the campus of BSU. Based upon the novel by Henry Fielding, which chronicles the young adult life of Tom Jones, the ward of Squire Allworthy who adopted the baby supposedly borne by one of his servants and the local barber. Tom, as played by Brett Cease, is a shy young man who does not understand his attraction to the women he encounters and the malice of most of the men in his life. A stellar cast is directed by Derrick Houle for Bemidji Community Theater. The PG-13 rating is due to sexual innuendo. Tickets are $6 children and $12 for adults now at Iverson’s Corner Drugs and Shannon’s Art & Soul in downtown Bemidji and Ken K. Thompson at the new store on Ridgeway and Paul Bunyan Drive or at the door the day of performance.


•Bemidji Community Theater’s “Tom Jones,” an adult comedy at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage of Bangsberg.


•Bemidji Community Theater’s “Tom Jones,” an adult comedy at 2 p.m. on the main stage of Bangsberg.

Art installations

•Art installations for May can be found online at, click on the “First Friday Art Walk.”

•The Clearwater County History Center’s installations “Minnesota Home front” — a traveling exhibit from the Minnesota Historical Society, as well as “Clearwater County Goes to War” a local exhibit about the home front during WWII. The center is open is closed on Sunday and Monday and is located on U.S. 2 West.

•Hope House members will present a watercolor/acrylic and haiku display titled “Spring Time Rising” at the Bemidji Public Library during the month of May.

•Neilson Place presents the multilayered artwork of Paula Swanson, “Hurry Summer,” through June. Swanson explores and interprets ideas, emotions and experiences creating a dialogue between the artist and viewer. Neilson Place is located on Sanford WoodsEdge campus, 1000 Anne St. NW.

•RavenRock Gallery of Jewelry and Fine Art and the Artists of Studio 10 will be hosting an exhibit by guest multimedia artists Barbara and Michael Hoet through June 1, 1000 Paul Bunyan Drive, Suite 102. S


•Mary Therese Paterson is holding a Landscape Watercolor Painting and Collage Workshop to teach attendees how to paint watercolor landscapes and then use the art of collage to create a three-dimensional landscape.

The workshop will be held from 12-6 p.m. Saturday at the Rail River Folk School, 303 Railroad St. SW.

The registration deadline is Monday and reserve your space by emailing or call 751-5447. The fee is $35 and checks must be made payable to Region 2 Arts Council, 426 Bemidji Ave. N. in the Carnegie Library building.

Upcoming events

•The first ever Bemidji Chorale Archives Concert will begin at 7 p.m., May 18 at the Beaux Arts Ballroom on the campus of BSU. The chorale is directed by Patricia Mason and accompanied by Wayne Hoff.

•“Tom Jones” will be bacl on the main stage of Bangsberg at 7:30 p.m. May 23 and 24.