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More the merrier for Christmas Eve dinner in Allied Arts theatre production

ELK POINT - It’s been a long wait, but Elk Point’s first dinner theatre performances in two years lit up the stage in late November at the Elk Point Allied Arts, where appreciative audiences enjoyed a fine meal before settling back to watch ‘In-Laws, Outlaws and Other People (That Should Be Shot).'

Performances also took place in early December.

This hilarious comedy takes a snapshot of a rather ordinary family’s Christmas Eve celebration where the somewhat reluctantly invited guests are added to by the family’s neighbours and a pair of rather inept outlaws, fleeing from a robbery.

The cast, directed by Don Conrad, who is also Tom, the dad of the family, includes a number of familiar faces, including Barb Maile as his adamantly vegetarian daughter Beth, Diana Richer as his wife Janet, who keeps phoning with updates on the status of her flight home from another state and makes it home very late for dinner, and Mabel Gottenbos as the next door neighbour, who just can’t believe they don’t have their Christmas lights turned on yet.

Lawrence Pidluzny is Tom’s redneck brother-in-law, from New Jersey, of all places, married to Janet’s sister Bunny (Ellen Reed). They bring along their daughter Tracy (Heather Harms), with Janet’s over-talkative Aunt Rose (Velma Hudson) and sarcastic Uncle Leo (Udo Mueller) completing the family circle.

It’s a group that makes convenience store robbers Tony (Shawn Sheplawy) and Vinny (Ross Krekoski), who both obviously escaped from the Bronx, according to their accents, wonder if they really wanted to get snowbound with after choosing this house as their hideout.

The ever-increasing, and not necessarily invited, guest list also included Paul (Zxayven Pelech), a blue-haired Goth teenager who comes bringing a gift for Beth, his sister Emily (Lynda Young) and their mother, Mrs. Wakowski (Jan Young) who come looking for him, and found they are all staying for a while, whether or not that was their original intention.

Pack all that every-growing group into a marvellous two-room set constructed by Lavern Kittlitz, Randy Diesel and Marshel Pelech, with lighting and sound by Kelsey Taylor and Rob Walker, and what can you expect but a whole lot of one-liners, put-downs and even a few romantic reminiscences? Before a surprising twist of fate, it’s almost enough to make the outlaws flee the hideout before the law, in the person of Officer Henley, a role shared during the five performances by Sherry Milholland and Don Lindquist, comes knocking at the door.

This year’s dinner theatre, produced by Conrad with the assistance of Dixie Coleman, once again featured a cast and crew that comes from across the Elk Point and St. Paul areas, and has been dedicated to the memory of Randall Krys, who was a co-founder of the dinner theatres in Elk Point back in 1994 and who was actively involved with the Allied Arts, being an integral part of the Elk Point Community Choir and starring in many of the outstanding plays presented there, for 27 years before his untimely passing in October 2020.