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A toast to the madrigal dinners: DLHS will host two musical, medieval feasts

Wandering minstrels, wisecracking beggars, even a recorder ensemble... it's all part of the fun of a Detroit Lakes High School Madrigal Dinner.

The biennial event will return to the Historic Holmes Theatre Ballroom for two separate performances this year, on Dec. 17 and 20. Both dinners begin promptly at 7 p.m., so guests (i.e., ticket holders) are asked to come early for seating.

Guests are treated to a Renaissance-style royal banquet, which includes a complete five-course meal featuring everything from Caesar salad to French onion soup to English cheesecake. The dinner will be catered by Duane Dunrud and Marge Kvilvang.

While they eat, the guests will also be entertained by the minstrels and beggars. There will also be a royal court presiding over the event, headed by the King (Alex Renner) and Queen (Kelsey Dutton).

The king's whimsical demands provide much of the plot for the entertainment which ensues.

The skit, which was scripted by Knight Shtick Press, begins with the king's petulant jealousy of his French counterpart, known as the Sun King.

"He decides he wants to become the Moon King," says Mark Everson, the skit's director. Hence comes the title of the script, "The Moon King Decides."

With his new title comes a new attitude -- a distinctly dictatorial one.

"He's now 'The Decider' -- he decides everything," Everson explains.

One of his first decisions as Moon King is that he wants entertainment for his royal banquet. He hires a group of traveling actors, the Half Act Players.

"Then he decides he wants them to do a play about him," Everson continues. Unfortunately, the Players don't know any plays about him, specifically -- so he fires them.

The rest of the skit focuses on the Players' efforts to get the King to hire them back -- part of which involves assuming the identities of his trusted advisors, Jester (Kelsey Wenner), Mertonia (Kaitlin Lange) and the Town Crier (Bryan Lee).

In another part of the action, the King decides to replace his Players with a game show -- "Are You Smarter than a Peasant."

"We incorporate a lot of pop culture (into the skit), to contemporize it a bit," explains DLHS vocal director Kathy Larson, who directs the overall production.

Everson notes that the character of the King is based on a certain prominent political figure -- but declines to identify who it is.

"We'll leave that up to the audience to figure out," he says.

When the skit is over, banquet guests will be treated to a royal concert, featuring the aforementioned recorder ensemble -- consisting of Detroit Lakes music teachers Kendra Mohn, Roberta Chatham, Karen Bimberg, Deb Melgaard and Dorothy Satrom.

There will also be songs performed by Detroit Lakes' 9th grade choir, varsity choir and concert choir, and special guest performers will be the First Lutheran Church Bell Choir.

In fact, music is featured prominently in all parts of the production -- even the serving of each course.

"The head server announces each course in song," Larson explains.

Modeled on a similar event held at Bemidji State University, the DLHS Madrigal Dinner has a flavor and tradition distinctly its own, according to Larson.

"There are certain aspects of the dinner that are very traditional," says Larson.

For instance, the beggars will play practical jokes and interact with the audience.

"People have really enjoyed interacting with the beggars in the past," Larson says. "They're the practical jokers of the evening -- and we have some guests who will pay 'shinies' (i.e., coins) to have the beggars play jokes on them."

"We keep it jovial, lighten the mood," explains Jake Ginnaty, who plays one of the beggars.

Tickets for both Madrigal Dinner performances are available by stopping in at the Holmes Theatre Box Office, 826 Summit Ave., by calling the box office at 218-844-SHOW (7469), or online at (click on the "Historic Holmes Theatre" link at the top of the page).

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454