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The Scarlet & Black

Fatherly ghost to make appearance at Country Club on VDay

By Darwin Manning

The Grinnell Arts Council swooped in with a felicitous occasion for a Valentine’s outing this weekend and the next with a dinner theater at the Grinnell Golf and Country Club. The production, titled “A Nice Family Gathering,” a comedy by Phil Olson, will be performed by the Grinnell Community Theater. The play tells the story of a father’s return from the dead as a ghost with the mission of telling his wife of thirty-five years that he loved her, something he neglected to do during his lifetime.

The play is directed by Barb Lease and Tom Lacina and is sponsored by the Grinnell Community Theater team, which has a long-standing tradition of forty-plus years.  The well-respected group regularly holds plays in Grinnell, and the cast of seven in A Nice Family Gathering hopes to uphold the impressive repertoire.

“Today, it remains one of our strongest arts programs. Every show is a thrill,” said Grinnell Arts and Residency Director Molly Rideout ’10. “Every year, Community Theater puts on between two to four shows, but this is the first time in about four years that one of them has been a dinner theater.”

The last time the Community Theater hosted a dinner and theater tandem, it was held at the Grinnell Steakhouse and previously in various churches. The dinner will serve as a unique performance experience for the audience, as well as the Community Theater.

“It’s something that people like to do. They enjoy putting theater and dinner together,” said Lease. “You don’t want to do it all the time, but it’s fun and it makes this a special evening.”

Though the play was the third choice that the team listed, and was chosen due to licensing issues,  the group could not be more pleased.

“It’s been a great play, especially for my first, because it has simple lighting, sound and a great history,” Lease said.

The production aims to leave the audience with a lasting message of appreciating and connecting with family. Additionally, she hopes that the viewers will be able to see themselves in the family, though it may be a little more eccentric than their own.

“I hope that this reminds the audience that it is important to tell people that you love them, because the story is about a man who ‘loved his family so much, he never told them,’”  Lease said.

This play is not an ordinary love story, but rather a family comedy that can be received by a wider audience. The play does not have the typical love dimensions of a romantic relationship  but rather explores love within a family. There are plenty of comedic elements to it as well, with many laughable moments supplied through the character of the father as a ghost.

Lease explained that the purpose of the event is not only to entertain the audience, but also ensure an enjoyable artistic experience for the cast and crew members.

“In Community Theater you want everyone to feel good about what they have done, because no one is making them do it for a grade and they aren’t getting paid, so you want to make sure everyone is having a good time,” Lease said.

The production dinner will be served each night at 6:30 p.m. with the play beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for the performances on February 10th and 11th, as well as the 17th and 18th, and they will all be held at the Country Club. Tickets can be purchased at the Grinnell Arts Center on Broad Street, and prices range from $38 to $42, with a limited number of tickets at $15.

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