Here are some answers to questions you may have about the new Old West Melodrama Dinner Theater premiering the summer of 2017 at Elmer's!

Q What is a melodrama?  Some of the characteristics of authentic melodrama include: That villainy is always distinct from honesty; virtue always overcomes vice, and be sure that there is a happy ending.

There is always a hero wearing a white hat of one sort or another. There is always a villain and his black hat. And there is always a heroine in need of rescue. Melodramas are typically fast moving and emphasize the agony that the hero or heroine goes through before good can triumph over evil. Other stereotypical characters include the sheriff, the villain’s sidekick, and comical friends who share insurmountable odds with the hero or the heroine.

The virtuous hero or vivacious heroine is hounded by a villain and then rescued from a series of life threatening events as an episodic story unfolds. Plot devices like disguise, abduction, concealed identity and fortunate coincidence are often used just to keep the audience guessing what will come next. Characters such as friends of the hero or heroine provide comic relief. Melodramas are perfect for ad-libs and improvisation and incorporating a fair amount of each keep the productions fresh each and every night. In fact, aside to the audience often bring the biggest belly laughs!

Q What are people saying about the show?
As we look back on 2015 and 2016, we are proud, shocked, amazed and energized! After the first weekend, ALL shows SOLD OUT!

Now...we are back for a third year. With YOUR help, we will continue to grow! Some actual quotes heard after a show in 2015, our first year:

"This is the most fun I've had in years."....yes, actually said!!
"Everything was top-notch, first-class, from the food to the service to the show."
"We needed something like this in this area. We'll be back."

Needless to say, we're pretty humbled!

Q: What can I expect?

Your wild west dinner theater experience takes place in Betty Jo’s pavilion that has been turned into a live theater venue.

Remember, when you arrive prior to 6:30 p.m. (anytime after 6 is ok) you’ll check in and be shown to your table where you will dine and watch the show. Seating will be “family style” so get to know the folks you will be seated with, or if your group is 6 or 8, you already know each other!

You are then free to roam about and mix and mingle with the western folks on hand. Strike up a conversation with a character, grab a beverage and plant yourself on an outside picnic table, or get to know the folks yer sittin' with. About 6:15 or thereabouts, there will be announcements about some shenanigans going on outside (if'n it ain't rainin'). 

Around 6:30 or after the pre-show antics, the cowboy cook will ring the dinner bell; that's your cue to get to your seat. A few announcements and special event recognitions (tell us if you're celebratin' somethin') will be had as you're served the vittles.  During dinner, some of our actors may mingle and you’ll enjoy some mindless banter, but this is the time you can concentrate on the great feast before you!

The melodrama will begin as dinner is wrapping up and tables are being cleared. Be ready to laugh, cry, boo, cheer and be entertained by a top-notch production! There will be the first act of about an hour, then intermission where you will have dessert.  The second act follows; we think you will be well on your way about 9:30 p.m.

Q Why do I have to pre-purchase my tickets and why are online prices lower?  

You’re in for authentic Texas barbeque! That means the night before, we have to know how much smoked meat we need, because slow and low turns out excellent food! It’s not like slapping a burger on the grill when you arrive; we’ll be putting in hours of cooking for each show!

When you purchase online, you also will be assigned a seat for you and your group. As far as pricing, you'll notice it's $5 extra for each seat if you want to call in or drop by and purchase tickets, or $10 extra on the night of the show, if'n there are seats available. Right now most of our time is taken running a restaurant with a menu that is unique in this region. Did you know we have to turn the smokehouse meat every few hours all night long? Anyway, if we continue to add shows and grow our theatre, we may have a box office, but right now we want to encourage you to use the online process.

We will be able to accommodate a few last-minute guests, but why take a chance? We'll post a sign out the afternoon of the show to let you know about any remaining seats!

Q Is there a deadline to purchase tickets for a particular performance? 

Actually, we need to know how many are coming by 9 p.m. the night before the performance, so we can load our smoker with the proper amount of authentic barbeque! So please register early!

But hey, if you're someone who waits until the last minute, come on over and we'll see if we can get you a promises!!

Q What if I can’t make it? Is there a refund or can I change to another date? 

 Sorry! No refunds or date changes - please plan carefully! If you are unable to show up, treat some friends to your seats!
At managements discretion, we will only consider refunds or partial refunds if there are extreme life threatening weather issues. 

Q Will you recognize birthdays and anniversaries or other special events?  

Darn tootin’! Let us know when you make your reservations or let someone know when you arrive. We’ll recognize those celebratin’ folks at the beginning of the show where we....well, you'll have to see!

Q Do you have group rates?

 That's a good question. Groups are welcome, but they must call us at 218.864.8436.  Push the Right Prompts to get to Rodger or Laura. Groups must be above 20 to get a discounted rate. We may be able to arrange a special private performance for groups of 50 or more, say on a Thursday night. Give us a call about large groups of 20-30 and we'll see what we can do!

Q What is a “wild west” theme?

When you attend Elmer’s Texas BBQ wild west melodrama dinner theater, you take a  light-hearted journey back to the old Wild West of this country. Think 1880’s, Deadwood, Wlld Bill and all the character you've seen in those old westerns (Ask your parents about Bonanza). Are you ready to visit the Old Wild West?

Actors are arrayed in elaborate, authentic, detailed costuming straight out of the old west.  Our shows this year show are based  loosely on that era, but you may snicker at local or recent references. Also, in August of this year, we have two weekends of a more traditional drama that's been somewhat "melodramatized."

Q Can I take my own photos and videos?

Guests are welcomed to take some photos during our flash....and please silence yer phone!  In fact, even though the old west characters may have never seen the electronic device you’re carrying, they might be taught how to take a shot of your group!

Guests are NOT allowed to use video cameras or use flash photography during the show due to proprietary copyrights and safety. BUT each night there are photo opportunities outside at the Old West Medicine Show. Have your camera capture you as a WANTED person or in JAIL!

Q May I bring our children?

Younger children are welcome at parent's discretion. While the wild west dinner theater show is hilariously funny and the content is family friendly, our productions are not necessarily geared to a young audience.  So we strongly discourage a child younger than 10 years old and really, our productions are aimed more towards a mature audience. Toddlers, babies and small children rarely appreciate live theater. Please hire a baby sitter or send them to Aunt Martha's!

If you were to ask for a rating, we'd give it a PG to PG-13 because many of the jokes and innuendos are subtle.  There is no blatant or overly sexual behavior; however, there may be use of innuendo and/or double entendre with certain characters.

Q What is the dinner like?

You won’t go away hungry! As dinner will be served family style, each 8-person table will usually (we reserve the right to tweak the menu!) receive ribs (3-bone each), smoked chicken, pulled pork, and all the fixins like cole slaw, au gratin potatoes and corn bread, lemonade, ice tea and a pan of apple crisp (topped with ice cream) for dessert.  The 6-person or smaller tables will be proportioned accordingly.

Q Do you take requests for special menu items like vegetarian or gluten-free meal?

Actually, our smoked meats are gluten-free. However, when serving 108 people in 20 minutes, it's a logistical nightmare to do special requests.  

Q Is there a dress code?

Heavens no! But we don't expect you to show up in your grubbies either. This is a night out for everyone. But it is lake country and t-shirts in good taste and shorts are welcome. Please no bare feet. If you would like to dress up in western gear like that group last year, that’s awesome!

Remember, Betty Jo's pavilion is screened in, so if it's cool out, bring a coat or dress for the weather. We're all inside together, but we can't close the windows! It can also get warm, so be prepared.

Q Will I be asked to act or perform? 

Don't worry! Though our productions are interactive and audience participation is possible, our dinner theater guests will not be asked or required to "act" in our production. We are professionals and respect our audience!

BUT our first show could be called a "Bucket List Show." Several have said they have often longed to be on stage. Our world premiere show has that opportunity for someone to be on stage!!!

Q What makes you different from other theater shows?

We are planning many things to make our wild west dinner theater productions great! First we start with a script that is funny, well written and we tailor it to this area. Then we take that script and add talented actors (along with ingenious skillful direction) to create a hilariously funny show. Our creative team has acted in or been involved in more than 100 productions throughout the Midwest.

In addition to a great show, you will also enjoy a delicious dinner prepared and served by the fine staff of Elmer’s. Also, Betty Jo’s Pavilion will be dedicated to theater shows, so we’re not cramming a dinner theater into an existing restaurant. Experience the one-of-a-kind Wild West atmosphere and culture of our newly renovated pavilion. Enjoy a thrilling and hilarious trip back in time to the old west!

Q Where are you located? 

We are in the heart of the Otter Tail Lakes country, right along Hwy 78 between Battle Lake and Otter Tail City. It's about a 9 minute drive from either city.  The address is 27896 State highway 78 Battle Lake, MN 56515

Q&A for Dinner Theater Show