Humanitarian humor: JLT brings "Charitable Sisterhood" to JPAC stage this weekend

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Greg Little
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

JANESVILLE—It won't count as a visit to your house of worship, and it won't lead you toward the path to salvation.

But if you're looking for something to soothe your soul, you could do worse than Janesville Little Theater's upcoming production of “The Charitable Sisterhood of the Second Trinity Victory Church.”

“It's a comedy, but it's not slapstick,” explains stage manager Steve Shaw. “And it's not that it isn't funny, but it has its serious parts, too. It's a little more 'Steel Magnolias' than 'Church Basement Ladies.'”

Written by Richmond, Virginia playwright Bo Miller, “Sisterhood” centers on a group of women gathered at a local church to fulfill a mission project aiding the homeless in Guatemala. The contingent—which includes the pastor's wife, a mother of nine, a local Yankee and a new-to-town Georgian—draws closer together while making its way through an unusually large pile of donated goods.

“As they go along, they discover in a pile of clothing another woman, who you find out as the show goes on is a fugitive,” Shaw said. “We know she murdered her husband, but they had an abusive relationship. That's what the meat of the play is about.”

With its small cast, the play affords each actress ample opportunities to introduce themselves and contribute to the overarching storyline.

“There are only five people, but each character gets to tell her life story and talk about where she is now and how she go there,” Shaw said. “And there is a powerful theme where the abused woman talks about being abused, but it's not done in a maudlin way. She just tells it as it happened.”

And just as the play's characters draw together, so too have the actresses playing them.

“I think all the ladies really enjoy being with one another,” Shaw said.

“We've had a fun time at rehearsals, and with this cast, everybody just seems willing to help one another. It's been a really nice cast to work with.”

Shaw expects that camaraderie to be on display during each performance, and he also believes the plays subject matter will resonate with a wide range of audience members.

“It's a good play,” he said. “There's not a lot of language that will offend people, so they can just come in and enjoy the show.”

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