Rotary Dinner Theatre reaches Africa

Local actors put on a first rate performance for the Westlock Rotary Dinner Theatre.

Local actors put on a first rate performance for the Westlock Rotary Dinner Theatre.

Twinkling lights, good food, a glass of red wine – the stage was set. When the first strong chords filled the community hall, toes set to tapping and hearts to singing along to: “I’m an Old Cowhand”. The strong full opening lines of Westlock’s 15th Rotary Dinner Theatre were sung by local talent Ted Brooks. Ted played the part of “Archie” in “Chaps’ – the British meets the Old West”. It’s ‘a show written for humour and wonderful music from the l940’s’ (from the dinner theatre pamphlet). It was wonderful and humorous.

You don’t want to miss Westlock’s big event, attracting 400 people per night for six dinner theatre presentations and two Sunday afternoon matinees. That’s a lot of people for a small town of about 5000 inhabitants. Often the presentations are sold out weeks in advance, so I was fortunate to get tickets that morning at the last table. That says something about the quality of the drama presentation.

Evelyn Caulkins, the musical director, has been with the show since the mid 80’s. She told me they start practices in August, three nights a week for three hours each, until October. The program is already set until 2013, as scripts must be found and brought in.

Vera Brown and Kerri are among 41 volunteers working behind the scenes to make the dinner theatre successful.

Vera Brown and Kerri are among 41 volunteers working behind the scenes to make the dinner theatre successful.


It’s hard to fathom that this kind of quality is all done by volunteers. It’s not just those involved in the play. Every night it takes 41 volunteers to work behind the scenes to make the evening happen – servers, dishwashers, setup… That’s an enormous commitment.

Westlock’s Rotary Club is very active, supporting a large variety of projects from close to home in Westlock and as far away as in Africa. Reading the evening’s brochure, I saw again the back of a wheelchair while at physiotherapy in Kitwe, Zambia last February. “Donated by the Rotary Club of Whitecourt, Alberta,” it said. I’d laughed out loud, and asked if anyone there had an inkling of where Whitecourt was! – Of course not. What Zambian would have heard of a small town along the long lonely stretch of highway between Edmonton and northern Alberta and B.C.?!

Judy is very grateful for the wheelchair, donated by the Rotary Club of Whitecourt, Alberta.

Judy is very grateful for the wheelchair, donated by the Rotary Club of Whitecourt, Alberta.

So when I attend the Rotary’s dinner theatre, I not only get top notch entertainment, I am also contributing towards a cause close to my heart. It could be the Foodgrains Bank project, the local high school choir, student exchange programs or Fandelle Girls School in Ethiopia. Talk about a win/win situation!

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