Recipe for a great Dinner Theatre

Volunteers were busy preparing the meal prior to the Friday, April 7th performance of the Milestone Elks 33rd Annual Dinner Theatre held at the Milestone Masonic Hall. Photo by Becky Pedersen

Milestone wrapped up its 33rd Annual Dinner Theatre on Sunday, April 9th. The event attracted audiences from as far away as Martensville, near Saskatoon, and boasted sold-out performances nearly every night. The Dinner Theatre show ran for six nights from March 24th to 26th and April 7th to 9th. For the first time ever, the Elks hosted its 1st Annual Pub Night performance, held the week prior to Dinner Theatre, on Wednesday, March 22nd.

The Milestone Elks have presented the Dinner Theatre every year over the last three decades and the Milestone Prairie Players theatre group have provided the entertainment, performing audience favourites every year.

The recipe for a successful dinner theatre, however, truly lies in the often unseen and uncelebrated efforts of the volunteers behind the scenes. Hours before a performance is set to begin, volunteers are already hard at work in the kitchen preparing the roast beef meal, chopping vegetables, peeling potatoes, brewing tea and coffee, and preparing other ingredients for the mouth-watering spread. In the hall, dining tables are being set, and centrepieces are being nestled among the silver and glassware while serving staff, comprised of Elks members, donned in crisp white dress shirts and black bow ties, are gearing up to pamper patrons. Not to forget, the volunteers who offer their expertise in advertising, centrepiece creation, hall decoration, and basic set-up of the venue.

Milestone’s Prairie Circle club has been providing most of the desserts since the inception of Dinner Theatre. These committed ladies take pride in their yearly contribution. Prairie Circle member, Ida Sambrook, who has made desserts every year for all 33 years of Dinner Theatre and who just celebrated her 90th birthday, continues to provide an absolutely divine apple torte worthy of a second or third helping.

We often hear the phrase ‘it takes a village’; well in this case it takes a town. Organizing volunteers for the event begins months before Dinner Theatre even starts. The community never fails to respond and volunteers turn out en masse to offer their time, expertise, cooking skills and enthusiasm each year.

Operational leads are tasked with contacting, instructing and organizing volunteers for the big event. Tim Devereaux and Mark Beck are responsible for preparing and organizing the meal and kitchen; Marie Keys organizes workers for the dessert bar; Becky Pedersen organizes the salad bar; Paul Harker tends the bar and Brady Brown is in charge of the waiters; and as House Manager, Robert Moorhead oversees all activity.

Milestone prides itself on hosting a Dinner Theatre worthy of its exceptional reputation; one steeped in class and tradition. Patrons are welcomed outside of the hall by a doorman dressed in top hat and tails. Volunteers are waiting at front of house to warmly greet the crowd and chaperones are on-hand to escort patrons directly to their tables.

What makes an event successful may vary from town to town, but in Milestone it begins with a splash of fun, a dollop of cooperation garnished with smiles and laughter, combined with a heaping serving of community spirit, left to marinate over six nights. What you get, is the perfect recipe for a great Dinner Theatre.