Quote of the Day: Dinner for One was created by British author Lauri Wylie in 1920. It was recorded in 1962 by Norddeutscher Rundfunk and is aired and watched annually in Germany and Scandinavian countries on New Year’s Eve. from program notes in the playbill for Dinner for One at the Jungle Theater.
Director Christina Baldwin teamed up with Sun Mee Chomet and Jim Lichtscheidl to create a charming 60 minute production of Dinner for One, on stage at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, MN through December 31, 2023. Get your New Year’s Eve story here! The show is absolutely brilliant, featuring the enormous talents of the above mentioned creators. This is a performance that gives Lichtscheidl as the butler James and all the dinner guests a chance to really show us his exceptional acting and comedic skills with the perfect pairing of Chomet as the grieving 90-year-old woman whose subtle movements and gestures convey so much of what has happened and is happening on stage.
The show begins like a scene from a silent film with James pushing in a squeaky, old drink cart. Something about that squeaky wheel, Jim’s reaction to it, and the cleverly placed signs bring out giggles from the start. He summons Miss Sophie with a silent bell. She comes down the stairs, dressed all in black, not saying a word. This scene is carried out several times, as we realize, through those signs, that times has passed. Then, 20 years later, she finally comes all the way down the stairs, dressed in an elegant gold gown, and sits at the table. “Same procedure as every year?” asks her butler. Jim proceeds to set the table for a dinner party and play out all the parts of the guests. He is, in effect, acting out a special memory for Miss Sophie, when she was surrounded by friends, who were potentially also suitors. It was/is her birthday, and she’s the center of attention. As the evening progresses, James gets sloshier as he has to drink for all the dinner guests for each course and toast. Even as we see this silliness progress, the actors capture the tenderness that accompanies this great act of kindness and reminiscence. I adored watching this performance.
Gorgeous set design by Eli Sherlock. Elegant costumes by Ora Jewell-Busche. Lighting by Marcus Dilliard, and sound design by Jaime Lupercio. An additional treat to this performance is the music, played live with the pianist and violinist up and in a large picture frame behind the main action. Music director/arranger and violinist Emilia Mettenbrink sets the mood perfectly for this piece, adding in classical phrases and subtle reactions by the musicians and actors. Andrew Sun played the piano for the performance I attended. In an interview in the playbill for this show, Baldwin states: Classical music plus slapstick comedy is the perfect pairing to mirror the highs and lows of real life. Music can set the literal tone of a piece and can highlight the whiff of emotions that are present. Mettenbrink goes on to add: I always want for music to direct the listener/audience emotionally in the space and provide them with a reference that draws them into the minds of the characters and their actions on stage. Mission accomplished.
You can catch this gem of a performance, Dinner for One, at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, MN through December 31, 2023. Do not hesitate to get tickets. This show is already selling out!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What are some special memories of people who have celebrated birthdays or holidays with you? How do you like ringing in the new year?