Everyone’s welcome at “First Baptist of Ivy Gap”

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“Time may be a great healer, but it is a lousy beautician.”

Six women gather to wrap bandages in a church basement. Rumors swirl that World War II will end soon, but the boys haven’t come home yet—especially Luby’s son, Norman. As they work, the women gossip, joke, dream and squabble.

Act 2 brings the group back together for First Baptist’s 100th anniversary… in the midst of the Vietnam War, where the heightened tension brings up old wounds and new surprises.

Osborne’s script takes a close look at small-town dynamics: those who leave, those who stay and those who don’t have a choice. First Baptist is a church that throws potlucks instead of parties; if you appreciate that distinction, you’ll enjoy the play’s Southern Baptist, slice-of-life humor.

Photos by Jamie Foster and Beth Harmon

Katie Harmon propels the story as pastor’s wife Edith. She embodies hard-scrabble grace, varying her tone from loving exasperation to quiet confidant. “I’m huggin’ you for me,” she insists.

Jeannie Robbins delights as Mae Ellen, the semi-rebellious church organist who’s trying to get fired so she can chase her dreams. Robbins shows delicate nuance in her pivot from Act 1’s youthful ambition to maturity in Act 2.

Jessica Cernek makes a pleasant impression as Sammy, a wide-eyed teenager from out of town, but she really springs to life in the character’s return.

It takes all types to make a church. First Baptist has its share of ups and downs, but most importantly, it’s a place where everyone belongs.

Additional Notes:

An accomplished musician, Jeannie Robbins recorded herself on organ for the offstage hymns gone awry. We found that extra flourish added shade to Mae Ellen’s character.

As we’ve noted before, audience members should sit near the front in this venue.

“First Baptist of Ivy Gap” makes veiled inferences to topics that Baptists don’t talk about, including one outrageous outburst.

First Company
First United Methodist Church
420 N Nevada Ave

Playing March 2–11, 2018 (buy tickets)
Admission: $15 general, $5 students
Running Time: 2 hours

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