Monday, February 4, 2013

The Theatah, The Theatah....

This weekend we had an opportunity to attend a local dinner theatre production.  My husband's curate, a former drama student, had one of the smaller roles and we wanted to support him.  

I admit it:  I was dreading the evening just a little bit.  I wanted to support the man because he is part of our church and I knew that with his university drama background he would do an excellent job, but to be honest I wasn't really looking forward to the ham acting, ribald humour, inadequate sets and costuming and Lord know what kind of stodgy food during the dinner portion of our evening.  I have been to a fair number of small town theatre productions and while I applaud and admire the perseverance and spirit of local dinner theatre volunteers in their attempts to bring something of the arts to their tiny communities, it isn't always that easy for me as an audience member to truly enjoy the events. Bad Suzy....selfish Suzy....preferring of city entertainments and fare Suzy.......30 lashes with a wet noodle to me.

What a delight our evening out turned into after all.  When we first arrived I thought it was going to be more of the usual local production attempts but I was so wrong.  (Feel free to intone "We Told You So" at this point in the blog entry.)  The evening went very well indeed.

When we first arrived and I looked over toward the buffet area the first thing I saw were racks of cherry cheesecake.......yeah, figures, I thought.  Boxed cherry cheesecake, how expected....  Even there I was wrong.  The cheesecake was not boxed mix and it was liberally topped with lacy melted shavings of dark chocolate.......I would forgive any dessert attempt, no matter how horrible, if it was laced with droozles of quality dark chocolate!  

But I digress.........

The tables in the well appointed community hall were draped with lovely tablecloths; the wine glass shaped centre pieces were glowing with small battery candles and clear balls to reflect the pink of the flowers surrounding the base.  Pink and black napkins were bunched attractively into our water glasses.  Pink and black can be a tacky combination but not so here.  Nothing was overdone.  The pink and black were little dashes of colour to liven up the white and clear of the table clothes and centre pieces. 32 tables of 8 place settings fit nicely into the room and I didn't feel I was tripping over someone or squeezed up too tightly for the evening.  Little details like that make an evening enjoyable or ruinous for me.  Each table was assigned a server of drinks and these young people did an excellent job taking care of us.

The dinner was a marvellous surprise.  It was simple fare as usual but it was done so well.  Instead of the expected chewy roast beef we had well cooked pork with perfectly roasted potatoes and gravy made from the pork drippings.  The niblets corn was just that: niblets  of corn with no added bits of red pepper or purple onion and what a treat to have it stand on its own for a change.  A garden salad was not drenched in dressing which was a relief and the cabbage salad had a unique almost sour dressing that was a lovely change from the expected coleslaw. Fresh bakery buns and pickles topped off the simple but very delicious and well prepared dinner...oooh, and that lovely cheese cake.

The entertainment portion of the evening began with a musical set performed by 2 of the local fellows, 2 young brothers.  Once again I was very prejudiced about what I would likely hear:  badly done renditions of old country songs and other twang twang a dee-de-lang disasters.  Wrong again!  These young men did a set of 5 songs that were more along the lines of pop/country and each song told a story.  Wonderful natural talents with vocals and guitars and humorous as well.

Then came the play which I was hoping would be mercifully short.  It turned out to be another pleasant surprise.  There were a handful of ham actors emoting about the stage, but generally the quality of the acting was amazing.  The actors handled the ridiculous script with great good humour and generally underplayed their parts....such a treat.  These people have been acting together for years and play so well off each other.  The set was amazing: the work that went into building movable interior closets, coat racks and cigar box lids that when moved a certain way opened doors and hidden compartments on the other side of the set.....nary a glitch with any of the technical aspects of the play.  For the most part it was the most professional production I have yet seen in a community so tiny. The director of this annual event is so committed that she returns home in the middle of her snowbirding winter adventures each winter to do the play and then returns to her snowbirding husband down south of the border to complete their annual holiday.

This little troupe manages to raise up 100 or more local volunteers each winter to put the dinner theatre together.  They  have been acting together for 11 years and have raised over $137,000 for their community in that time.  The beautiful community hall we were so adequately fed and entertained in is one of the testaments to their fund raising efforts.

Oasis Players and the townspeople of Eatonia Saskatchewan, I applaud your amazing efforts to not only raise funds for your community projects, but also your ability to do so with such aplomb and with such quality.  When tickets go on sale next year I will be in the lineup to get mine before your annual sell out leaves me with no access to your very special annual event. Thanks for a very classy evening! I unexpectedly and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review byline: a very humbled Suzy!

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