Passengers will set sail during a dinner theater at Richfield Life Ministries this weekend.
The mystery dinner theater, “Conundrum On The Crackerjack Cruise” by Nancy Bond is taking place 6:30 p.m. this evening and Friday, and again at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. All performances feature a full meal, except the 1 p.m. Saturday performance, which will include a dessert time instead.
Producer Joel Snyder has been choosing the productions and casting the roles since the first dinner theater 14 years ago, a Christmas play, “Uncle Phil’s Diner.”
Snyder said he tries to choose productions that are entertaining and draws people in to a church setting, noting that sometimes people think such a setting is boring.
“I try to mostly try to choose shows that are family friendly (obviously) but not necessarily overtly Christian. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t present the Gospel,” he said.
A cast of characters will climb aboard the ship, Grand Jubilations, and a sequence of comedic events and suspense will allow the audience to try to interpret “who did it?”
Among the cast are husband and wife Gene and Neta Hoffmaster who have participated on stage for every dinner theater hosted at the church.
“My wife played Uncle Phil’s mom,” Gene Hoffmaster said of the first production, and Gene got “roped into” the play by Snyder.
They both have returned to the stage each time there is a request.
“We just really enjoy doing it. We get to work together as a couple and we really enjoy the fellowship,” he said. The couple also takes part in pit bands for area high school musicals each spring, sometimes appearing in up to three pit bands in one season.
Hoffmaster, a retired band/choral instructor, has a love for music more than acting, but said he can’t complain. He loves the opportunity.
“My wife is more of the actress. She is in skits and things for ladies’ ministries and has even written a few skits of her own. She is very talented that way.”
Hoffmaster said this year he gets to climb aboard a cruise full of characters he knows as fellow parishioners — people he gets to see in a different light.
“It’s fun to see these people you know in a different way,” Hoffmaster said, pointing out the church’s new youth pastor, who has a background in theatrical arts, will be appearing for the first time on the Richfield stage.
“I always try to pick a show that has as many people involved as possible — especially shows that have a mixture of teens, children and adults. The more people, especially teens and children, you have involved, the bigger the audience is,” Snyder said, noting this cast is smaller than previous years. A bigger production is planned for Christmas, 2020. All proceeds benefit missions.