Thanks again to our revealer of dinner theatre secrets, Marleen Jonker, for her behind-the-scenes report.
Oakbank United Church Dinner Theatre involves the cooperation and hard work of many people. The time spent on dinner theatre “stuff” starts about a month after the last bows and final dinner clean-up. Things kick into full gear in the early fall. By the time December hits, it is rehearsal after meeting after prepping after phone call for many of the dedicated volunteers. This is especially true for the heads of the committees. They are spending any free time away from planning and prepping thinking about planning and prepping.
The reason I bring this up is because of the poor, forgotten, sometimes neglected victims. That’s right….Once again, I am bringing up the dirty secrets of dinner theatre life. Seriously, I am going to get kicked out of this whole adventure one of these times. I feel like the silent (or not) reporter, bringing the world the best, the worst and the in between……
Oh, wait, what was I saying again? Ahhh, the “victims”. Ok, I admit that is a harsh word that doesn’t exactly fit the situation, but I couldn’t think of another word. I looked it up in the thesaurus and discovered that “victim” could also be exchanged for casualty, sufferer, wounded, prey….prey???
Honestly, I got side tracked again. The possible casualties in this whole dinner theatre event are the volunteers’ children. They must either jump on the band wagon or get dragged behind it. I figure that I will have spent 84ish hours in rehearsal by the time performances start. Then it is about 105 hours at the church during performances. (I used my handy helper husband for all this math). Add to this number the times in a closed room rehearsing, plus driving time….and that is about 200 hours away from my family (that is more than 8 days!)
My eldest son, Noah came to dinner theatre with me while in utero. I actually felt him move for the very first time while at rehearsal. The next year, he came to rehearsals as an infant and was baby-sat by all the other performers whenever I was on stage. Over the years, both my boys have hung out in the church basement as mommy (or daddy) get ready for the show that night. They have soundly whooped cast members at games of UNO, taught the men how to fly remote control airplanes, read books, and done homework during the many hours of prep and performances.
The show goes too late for them to stay until the end, so if the whole family is at the church that day, the non-performing parent takes them home part way through the evening….well, except for that one weekend when I was doing security and hubby was in the play. They slept, one on each end, of the church couch. Good thing they can sleep anywhere!
Trust me, I think it is a great event for the whole family. I love seeing generations of people washing dishes, doing make-up, peeling potatoes and cleaning up after the show. I strongly believe my kids (and many others like them) will have happy memories of hanging in the church basement watching daddy put on his dress or mommy kissing another man…wait….maybe not those particular memories of theatre…..
How about the memories of people laughing, teasing, chatting and supporting? Yes, those are the memories all children should have. Memories of their family enjoying community life. Memories of being surrounded by people who love and respect them. Memories of being safe and content in a warm church full of laughter. So, for this reason, I retract my previous statement. The dinner theatre children aren’t victims; they are well-rounded, loved, respected members of the church and community. No one can ask for more than that.