Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Dinner theater a tradition at Oak Lake Lutheran


November 29, 2018

Provided photo

Congregants are getting ready for the Christmas dinner theater performance.

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and Christmas music playing at every turn, your heart may not be with your head quite yet when it comes to getting into the Christmas Spirit.

Never fear, for Oak Lake Lutheran Church in Kerrick is here.

For 27 years, Oak Lake Lutheran Church has been kicking off the holiday season with their dinner theatre.

Diane Bloom, director and organizer of the play, said the longevity of the play is exciting. "It's almost hard to believe!"

"It first started when our pastor at that time, Pastor Pat Ondarko, thought it would be fun to do this dinner theatre as a fundraiser for the church." Ondarko's idea has been enthusiastically embraced and sustained throughout the years, thanks to "many people past and present."

Bloom explained the congregants of the church vote every year in January on whether or not to put on the dinner theatre. For the past six years, Bloom has been the organizer and director. In September or October, she checks in with past actors to see if they're interested in participation once again and recruits new actors. "There aren't auditions, just willing people," she said.

Oak Lake is "a small country church" located in Kerrick with anywhere between 50-75 people attending regularly. Bloom said the theatre consists of the same basic parts each year - same play, same meal - but the people who participate differ from year to year. "I usually tap into our youth group to play many of the roles and try to throw in a few adults," Bloom explained. "People seem to love it."

Behind the scenes, Norma Hoffman, who happens to be Bloom's mother, is in charge of the kitchen preparations. In October, she conducts a planning meeting. From there, Bloom said, "People from the congregation donate different items for the meal. She also has sign-up sheets for people to work in the kitchen."

Each year, they put on "In Bethlehem Inn." Its setting is a dining room of a Bethlehem inn on the night Jesus was born. The setting includes the audience, and dinner is served as part of the play. "They are guests staying at the Bethlehem Inn."

Anyone familiar with the Christmas story knows the night Jesus was born doesn't exactly proceed without bumps in the road


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