Dinkytown church goes medieval

Friday’s snowstorm gave an ironic twist to the church’s play within a play fundraiser.

Diners and actors take part in a medieval themed dinner-performance Saturday at University Baptist Church.

Erin Westover

Diners and actors take part in a medieval themed dinner-performance Saturday at University Baptist Church.

Laura Sievert

At a Dinkytown church fundraiser Friday night, life imitated art, which imitated life.

At University Baptist Church, a group of actors, dancers and singers put on a medieval-themed stage show to raise money for some church endeavors. The plot: Somewhere in the Middle Ages, a group of actors planned to perform at a feast held by the local friar, but the plan went awry and the lead actor was forced to improvise the entire production.

On opening night, the inclement weather prevented many of the performers from arriving on time. On one side of the curtain, the audience sat in the sanctuary-turned-dining hall, waiting for the three-course meal. On the other side, Mike Lubke debated how long to postpone the performance.

Cast members approached Lubke with last-minute questions and the latest number of bell choir members who were delayed in the snowstorm. Though he never lost his cool, Lubke said the 15-minute delay was a little too similar to the story he was about to perform. Things just kept going wrong.

Doug Donly, the church pastor and an actor in the performance, described the play as a “mix of Shakespeare, Monty Python and Braveheart, only with better food and
less blood.”

The church put on a similar production two years ago, in which Lubke, a 2009 University of Minnesota theater graduate and the director of the piece, acted. This year, the show ran both Friday and Saturday night and served about 100 people between the two performances.

To transform the sanctuary, pews were moved to accommodate tables for guests. The show was timed to have the actors perform between the courses of the meal, and the choir and dancers to perform while the guests were eating.

Tickets for the show cost $40 per person, and after the cost of food, which was provided at a discounted rate by the Purple Onion, the weekend raised approximately $2,500, according to Liz Fine, the church clerk.

The money will be split between paying off the piano the church bought last year and paying for members of their sister church in Nicaragua to come visit Minnesota next fall, Fine said. The cost of that trip will be about $10,000 for six people.