Chattanooga Now Cumberland County Playhouse opens 54th season with 'Welcome Back to Ivy Gap'

Chattanooga Now Cumberland County Playhouse opens 54th season with 'Welcome Back to Ivy Gap'

January 10th, 2018 by Staff Report in Chattanooga Now - Art

Bryce McDonald, foreground, directs a rehearsal of "Welcome Back to Ivy Gap." The comedy will open Cumberland County Playhouse's 54th season on Saturday, Jan. 13.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: “Welcome Back to Ivy Gap”

› Where: Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., Crossville, Tenn.

› When: Multiple shows Jan. 13-March 23

› Admission: $16, $28 and $30

› For more information: 931-484-5000

Cumberland County Playhouse welcomes its audiences to Ivy Gap's First Baptist Church, where they'll find some of the most good-hearted, sharp-tongued, casserole-cookin' ladies in East Tennessee.

"Welcome Back to Ivy Gap" opens on Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Playhouse for 10 weeks of performances at the Crossville, Tenn., theater. The sequel to 2008's smash hit "First Baptist of Ivy Gap" and 2009's "Showtime at First Baptist" opens the theater's 54th season.

"There's no better way to chase away the winter blues than with this delightful show. It's filled with heartwarming humor and plenty of good old-fashioned belly laughs," said Producing Director Bryce McDonald, who directs the show. "And it features a star-studded lineup of Playhouse favorites."

This sequel is set five months after a fire that resulted in the death of the church's beloved pastor. The sanctuary has been renovated and a new pastor has been called.

There to welcome him are Olene, a reformed Vegas showgirl who fancies a star-studded career in religious music; Mae Ellen, the church's rebellious organist who may find that love comes along when least expected; and Loretta, allegedly the author of trashy Southern novels, who's determined to impose her questionable values on the church.

And then there's Vera, the sharp-tongued wife of the chairman of the board of deacons, who covets the role of the sexpot in Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers;" and Edith, the former pastor's widow, who faces a future without the things she cherishes most — her husband, her church and her friends.

Add Joseph J. Jennings — the church's newly called pastor who's competing with the ghost of the deceased pastor — and the third installment of the "First Baptist" trilogy is a poignant look at colorful characters who share laughs, love and forgiveness while being given second chances.

The cast includes Lauren Marshall, Jess Griffin, Patty Payne, Weslie Webster and Carol Irvin. Jason Ross is the newly called pastor.

"Welcome Back to Ivy Gap" runs through March 23. Tickets may be reserved by calling 931-484-5000 or visiting