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Community summer play, ‘Final Dinner Reservations’
Aug. 15, 2016

By Jennifer Von Ohlen
Staff Writer

DASSEL, MN – Another example of the Dassel-Cokato community’s theatrical talent is taking place this upcoming weekend with the locally-written one act play, “Final Dinner Reservations.”

Performances will take place in the Dassel History Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, and Friday, Aug. 19.

Saturday, Aug. 20, performances will be at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will be a matinee Sunday, Aug. 21 at 2 p.m.

Written, produced, and directed by DC local James Moen, the play introduces Professor Richard Patterson, who only desires to have a quiet dinner date with his less than cordial fiancée, Ruth Shepard.

The only problem is that everything possible is interfering with it, including a visit from Patterson’s old-time friend and partial nemesis, Allen Porter, who previously dated Shepard.

While these characters interact with each other, an unexpected guest shows up at Patterson’s door, and on top of it all, the weathermen have recently predicted a chance of the world ending soon.

Even though Patterson’s circumstances have the opportunity to make audiences laugh, Moen says at the core of the play is a man who has taken the safe road his entire life, and is now examining his own happiness, or absence of it.

As the potential end of the world draws near, Patterson has to decide whether he will continue playing the cards dealt to him, or if he will finally switch up the hand and change himself and his destiny.

The story is one Moen had wanted to do for a while, and after a previous summer engagement to theater fell through, he decided it was time to execute his idea.

While Moen believes the storyline of an ex showing up in a couple’s life is somewhat “cliché,” he was intrigued with the concept of it happening while the potential end of the world is approaching, adding the literal situation to the figurative feeling.

This approach resulted in “a unique situational dramedy, with quite the differentness (to it).”

The play is being performed by four Dassel-Cokato High School (DCHS) student actors: alumni Jackson Lambrecht and Isaac Olson, and current students Marissa Engquist and Natalie Dahlin.

Moen explained that while the play does not have adult themes, compared to the DCHS spring performance of “Theo and Bugsby,” also written and directed by Moen, “Final Dinner Reservations” is targeted towards those in high school and older.

No matter the audiences’ age, however, Moen strives to write and direct plays that will make the audiences think about the performance and its connection to their own lives.

“Even though there are a lot of funny parts [in “Final Dinner Reservations”], it really asks the audience a lot of questions, that if you only had a couple days left, how would you spend it?” Moen said.

“Would old grudges remain? Old loves stay lost? We all have the choice of either being complacent with how things are, or getting up and living your life to the fullest,” he continued.

In addition to the “great” work of the cast, who Moen says takes direction “exceptionally well,” he is grateful to Carolyn Holje and the Dassel History Center for leasing the space, and Ron and Becky Hungerford for their assistance in building and designing the set.

Tickets will be sold at the door, starting 30 minutes before each performance. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, and $5 for students.

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