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Mae Ellen (Delaney Kolb), left, and Olene (Kandese Green), center, discuss Olene’s plans to run away to Hollywood to the shock of Luby (Melanie Dippel), right. Attempting to keep the ladies on track in their war-effort duties is Edith (Glenna Brady), background. (Brienne Green – Daily Press)

Artesians looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of pre-graduation, as well as any who might simply enjoy a moving experience at the theatre, will want to make time this weekend for the Artesia Community Theatre’s latest production.

“First Baptist of Ivy Gap” by Ron Osborne is an equal-parts amusing and poignant tale that takes audiences on a journey of 25 years with the ladies of the church’s outreach and event-planning group.

The story begins in April 1945 as the women gather to prepare bandages for the boys overseas in World War II while also planning the church’s 75th anniversary celebration.

The audience is introduced to the Baptist ladies – Luby (Melanie Dippel), the worried mother whose son is away at war; the rebellious Mae Ellen (Delaney Kolb) and Olene (Kandese Green), who have ambitions grander than Mae Ellen’s pipe organ; the mother hen pastor’s wife, Edith (Glenna Brady); the standoffish, no-nonsense Vera (Olivia Alexander); and the newcomer who seems drawn to help by a force other than religious responsibility, Sammy (Alesa Anguiano).

A few other things also become clear: a tense history between Luby and Sammy, a conflict of duty versus desire within Edith, a secret being closely guarded by Vera, and the fact that Mae Ellen and Olene want out of Ivy Gap.

All will be heart-wrenchingly – and, at times, hilariously – revealed in Act II, when the group reunites during the height of Vietnam and preparations for First Baptist’s 100th anniversary.

There, they learn that despite distance, time, and altered plans, they’ve changed one another’s lives for the better.

Audiences will appreciate the subtle humor that weaves its way through the dramatic moments, making the characters realistic and relatable.

Artesians are also sure to see something of their own social dynamic in Ivy Gap, whether within similar church groups or simple friendships with other small-town dwellers.

The production marks the directorial debut of Becky Terpening, who will be assisted by Maria Almanza.

Tickets will be $15 each at the door at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, at the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center.