The First Baptist Church of Ivy Gap bandage rollers for World War II pose for a happy church photo for the church's 75th anniversary celebration.
By Max Caylor
Six women come together with the purpose of rolling bandages for “their boys” during World War II but over a 25 year period move from superficial friends to being true sisters as they share with each other their hopes, fears and deepest secrets.
First Baptist of Ivy Gap is the latest production of the Tater Patch Community Theater Players which is a dramatic comedy written by Ron Osborne and locally directed by Stanley O’Kelly that helps one look at life with humor, drama, tragedy and reconciliation.
The action takes place in the Convocation Hall of the First Baptist Church of Ivy Gap Tennessee complete with a picture of the Last Supper, bulletin board and church pew. As the ladies roll bandages they begin discussing plans for the church’s 75th anniversary and carry on small talk about their personal lives. It is a classic example of church life in the Bible Belt in the 1940’s.
Their stories are told through an onstage chemistry that easily allows one to empathize with the character’s emotions or get annoyed with their behavior. There is a 25 year gap between Act I and Act II with the group randomly gathering again for Ivy Gap’s 100th anniversary celebration.
Lubby Moore, played by Ellen Painter, had lost her husband and now her son was a Marine in the Pacific and was preoccupied in her bandage rolling and conversation with the group. Her face, voice, dress and demeanor touched the audience with her great sense of pain.
Audrey Kristen was Edith Ellington, the preacher’s wife. Her simple clothes, wisecracking and compassion for everyone no matter how far fetched kept the group together and focused. She is the kind of preacher’s wife everyone would like to have.
Vera, known as Eve Sauer in real life, was the local banker’s faithful wife always quoting scripture, and acting holier-than-thou whom nobody wanted to see coming. Her red hat and some other accessories were her mother’s dating to the 1940’s.
Dovie Green made the shy new comer Sammy Porter fit right in with the Ivy Gap group. Her laidback style and sensitivity endeared her to the play goers. She carried her situation with class and style and 25 years later had a son in Vietnam.
Mae Ellen Rafferty, the rebellious church organist role was played by Buffy Clark. She was always being called out by the preacher’s wife Edith for jazzing up the hymns on the church organ. One could sense and appreciate her playfulness and at the same time feel her valley of lostness.
Vanessa Stancil was Olene Wiffer, a young energetic woman that wanted to be a Hollywood star and left Ivy Gap to seek her fame. The vivacious Tennessee girl returned home for the 100th celebration as “Madam Midnight” with quite a story to tell.
These Ivy Gap church ladies really found themselves as they begin sharing their innermost secrets following 25 years of living. Their moving confessions brought personal relief and help create real community themselves.
First Baptist Church of Ivy Gap gives one the opportunity to look in the mirror and appreciate faith and real friendships with a smile and tug of the heart. The production continues on June 15, 16, 17 and 22, 23, 24. Visit taterpatchplayers.org for tickets and more information.