On Feb. 15, the Friday after Valentine's Day, the church will present
its fifth annual Sweetheart Dinner Theatre. The idea was originally the
brainchild of the church's Women's Ministries Committee.
The first year's production was simple. It combined dinner with a
handful of five-minute skits. Dinner was catered. No sets were required.
It sold out.
"I think the first one was put together to celebrate Joy and Bill
Welsh's 25th wedding anniversary," Lynn Bender said.
Bill Welsh is the church's pastor, an accomplished musician and
one-time worship leader at Calvary Chapel. During that first dinner he
performed a song titled, "The Best" for his own sweetheart and wife Joy.
Bender is the set designer for this year's production, three scenes
from "The Honeymooners" -- the 1950s sitcom hit that began as skits on
the "Jackie Gleason Show." Her husband, Doug, will portray New York City
bus driver Ralph Kramden, played by Jackie Gleason in the original
"The first year I thought I could help out moving props," Doug
recalled. Then he brought a friend of Lynn's to audition for the skits
and was lured into auditioning for a part himself. He has been acting in
the Sweetheart Dinner plays ever since.
"The Honeymooners" episodes were chosen this year for their high
quality, for their ability to make people laugh and for their honest
glimpses at human nature.
"'The Honeymooners' is a great old show about two couples that are
really funny," said Kris Langham, the church's high school and college
pastor. He will play Ralph's neighbor Ed Norton in the scenes.
Langham, who is also an engineer for Boeing in Huntington Beach, has
been acting since the fourth grade. He met his real-life wife Andrea, who
will play Honeymooner-wife Trixie during a staging of "The King and I" at
a community theater in a San Diego church 10 years ago.
Their preschool-age daughter Daisy and almost-toddler Caleb played
quietly while mom and dad rehearsed each Honeymooner segment. Then at the
end of each scene Caleb flashed a mouth-wide-open grin, clapped and
laughed, as good as if on cue.