By Kathy Yanchus
Those who camp out for tickets to the annual Rockton Dinner Theatre production, no doubt look forward as much to this adventure as opening night.
Although the musical comedy is still over a month away, tickets go on sale this Saturday (Feb. 2) and before the sun rises and the doors of the Rockton Fairgrounds office open, there will be a long lineup of cars and people, a dozen or so of whom will have spent the night, or several, in hopes of nabbing good tickets.
Organizers will provide campers with a small firepit, which the group of regulars can gather around on Friday night and socialize.
“There have been years when tickets have sold out on the Saturday, but it’s really just tradition; people have it booked and planned,” said co-chair of the dinner theatre committee, Heather Dillon. “It’s a way to do something in the middle of February when it’s cold and yucky. It’s just become tradition for this group.”
The 36th presentation of the dinner theatre features an original script as always, this year’s entitled Petty Cash, about a factory in the midst of financial difficulties and its workers who are trying to find a way out.
“It’s always a comedy, that’s all we know how to write,” said Dillon.
There is no formal name for the ensemble behind the yearly March event, just “a group of volunteers,” said Dillon, most of them members of the 600-plus strong Rockton Agricultural Society, who throw themselves with much enthusiasm into the myriad of jobs necessary to pull it off.
“It’s all done by volunteers, in the kitchen, onstage, backstage, stage builders, servers, everyone’s a volunteer. It’s just fantastic,” said Dillon.
Up to 254 theatre-goers per night are served a roast beef dinner and all the pie they can eat. Last year 1,300 lbs. of beef were cooked. Organizers try, “although we’re not always successful” to have 80 different kinds of pies on hand every night, all homebaked by the community.
This year’s presentation will feature many familiar faces onstage, as well as some new ones, said Dillon.
“We have just an amazing group of volunteers. Next to the fair (Rockton World’s Fair), this is the biggest event that we do. It is an amazing community. It always amazes me the people who are willing to come out and do this.”
This year’s dinner theatre runs March 14 to 16 and 21 to 23. Tickets cost $32.50 and will be available at the fair office (812 Old. Hwy. 8, Rockton) on Feb. 2 starting at 9 a.m., by phone at 519-647-2502 after Feb. 2, or from the fairgrounds office, which is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. providing, that is, the play is not sold out.