• What: “Welcome Back to Ivy Gap.”
• When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22-23, Aug. 28-30, Sept. 4-6; 2:30 p.m. Aug. 24, Aug. 31, Sept. 7.
• Where: Gem Theater, 700 Tennessee Ave., Etowah, Tenn.
• Admission: $12 adults, $10 children 10-12.
• Phone: 423-263-3270.
• Box office, 700 Tennessee Ave., Etowah (opens one hour before showtime)
• Johnson’s Department Store, 814 Tennessee Ave., Etowah,
• The Town Squire Men’s Wear, 1717 Keith St., NW,Cleveland, Tenn.
Season 22 debuts Friday, Aug. 22, for the Gem Players in Etowah, Tenn., with the Ron Osborne comedy “Welcome Back to Ivy Gap.”
The third in a trilogy of plays set in the fictional Tennessee town, “Welcome Back” returns to the scene of “First Baptist of Ivy Gap” and “Showtime at First Baptist” previously presented at the Gem Theater.
It’s autumn 1970, and all is not well for the spirited church ladies of First Baptist. Attendance is low since Pastor Charlie Ellington was called home five months earlier due to a fire in the sanctuary. His wife, Edith (played by Jamie Cline), has not attended church since then and will return to find that the new pastor has lost control of the tight ship her husband ran.
A Texas transplant, Pastor Jennings (played by Alan Perry) seems out-of-place in his new surroundings and overwhelmed by the tasks before him: rebuilding membership, replenishing the church’s building fund and keeping harmony within the congregation. He finds an ally in the take-charge Edith, and they begin trying to put the church back on the right path.
Other key figures include:
• Olene (Robbie Blakely), a reformed stripper dreaming of a star-studded career in religious music who develops a romantic friendship with the pastor.
• Mae Ellen (Amber Henry), the church organist who has started wearing her hippie clothes again and playing her own renditions of classic hymns.
• Vera (Elaine Baker), the sharp-tongued wife of a deacon who may be doing a little too much research for her role as the sexpot in a local theater production of “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.”
• Loretta (Virginia Orr), the snooty, super-rich newcomer who has left behind her “wild and crazy” days as a Methodist but who thinks her money can atone for her trouble-making ways.
LaMone Rose is directing the production. The Etowah run is the first time the play has been produced by a community theater since its May 2014 premiere at the historic Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va.