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Serving up dinner and a production - Central Oregonian

June 13, 2013
Crook County High School

The Prineville Elks and Crook County High School drama students are teaming up to provide families a Father’s Day outing complete with dinner and entertainment.

Next Friday, local residents can come to the Elks Lodge to enjoy a prime rib dinner, while watching a live radio show performance of “Father Knows Best.”

Tom Massingham, Exalted Ruler of the Prineville Elks, said that the organization was looking for a way to help the high school’s performing arts program, and decided to host a dinner theater. All the proceeds from the event will go to the drama department.

“We already support several of the athletic teams,” he said, “but we didn’t really have anything for the liberal arts – drama, music, and such.”

He and high school drama instructor Anita Hoffman collaborated on the project, brainstorming ideas and looking over dozens of scripts. They finally chose “Father Knows Best,” which seemed fitting with Father’s Day around the corner.

Hoffman added that they wanted to perform something that people would possibly recognize. “Father Knows Best” initially started out as a radio program in the 1940s then later became a popular television show during the 1950s.

The drama instructor was thrilled that the Elks reached out to the drama program and gave them another opportunity to raise money.

“I talk to the kids about fundraising,” she said. “I don’t want them to go out and sell candy bars or pepperoni sticks. They are performers — they should perform. If they can get some kind of community input from performing, that is what they should do because that is their strength.”

Dinner theater patrons can expect to see a performance that mirrors what they might have seen had they visited the radio station to witness the live show.

“The production values will be simple,” Hoffman said. “We just need standing microphones and sound effects, and we need kids that can perform with voices rather than their whole bodies.”

Though simple from a production value standpoint, the performance will challenge the drama students in different ways than most of their typical stage shows. For example, the actors will have to rely primarily on use of voice and facial expressions. Timing also becomes key as other drama students provide live sound effects that have to fit correctly into the action.

Also, because they are performing during a dinner, the students will have to adjust to the noises that come with the event.

“With dinner theater, you don’t have people sitting quietly, watching you,” she said. Instead they will perform as people talk or clink and clank their dishes.

Massingham is pleased to offer such an event to the Elks and other community members.

“It brings people into our lodge and helps the school out,” he said. “Most of us, particularly those of us in retirement age, enjoy a dinner theater.”

The Prineville Elks dinner theater will be held on Friday, June 21, beginning at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public. Admission is free, although a prime rib dinner with full menu can be purchased for $16 per plate.

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