It’s one big theater family

LAKE BENTON – Every summer, the musical at the Lake Benton Opera House draws performers from several surrounding communities, and this year, people from even as far away as Tracy, Minneota, Marshall, Brookings, S.D. and Ghent are bringing the story of a young orphan boy to life on stage.

The Lake Benton Opera House is presenting the musical “Oliver” at 7:30 p.m. July 25-27, July 31 and Aug. 1-3 and 2 p.m. July 28 and Aug. 3-4. The show is being directed by Mark Wilmes.

Playing the title role is Graham Dinnel of Lake Benton, who said it’s his first musical. He also said that he was going for the role when he auditioned.

“I did a bunch of research on it,” Dinnel said, adding that he’s read part of the abridged version of the book “Oliver Twist.”

When he learned he got the part, Dinnel said he was excited.

Dinnel describes his character as timid.

“He’s not too curious,” Dinnel said. “He doesn’t look into things.”

Rehearsals have been going “pretty good,” said Dinnel, but he had to work on one particular thing.

“I had problems with stopping and smiling while I’m acting,” Dinnel said.

Graham Wrightson of Brookings, S.D. was cast at Fagin. Originally from the United Kingdom, Wrightson is an acting veteran.

“I’ve been acting since I was four,” he said. He said he’s done about 60 shows, but he’s “lost count.”

Wrightson said Fagin is a role he’s been hoping to portray.

“I’ve always wanted to play Fagin because it’s a fun part to do, good character, nice songs,” Wrightson said.

Wrightson said his character, a criminal, is an interesting one.

“He’s a good guy pretending to be bad,” Wrightson said.

Fagin doesn’t want to get involved with the evil side, Wrightson said, but he wants to profit with doing little as possible.

“I think he likes looking after the kids rather than steal from them,” Wrightson said.

Wrightson said he looks around for musicals and roles that interest him.

“It’s nice to come into a small company,” he said, adding that it’s hard to break into bigger companies if they don’t know you.

“Here it’s very much all-inclusive,” he said.

Eukariah Tabaka of Marshall portrays the Artful Dodger in the show, which was a role he aimed for during auditions.

“I saw the movie, and I really liked the songs he sings, and from there, I really wanted to play the Artful Dodger,” Tabaka said.

Once he got the role, Tabaka was just “super excited.”

“And a little surprised because it’s the first show at Lake Benton (for me),” he said.

Tabaka was ready to tackle the character and learn more about the Artful Dodger.

“It’s been nice to get inside the character’s head and see what he thinks of the situation,” Tabaka said, adding that the Artful Dodger is like a big brother to Oliver.

Being new to the Lake Benton stage took a lot of getting used to, Tabaka said, but it’s been going well.

“It’s definitely something I look forward to every day,” Tabaka said about rehearsals.

The actors said rehearsals have been going well, and “Oliver” should be a good show.

“It’s been really fun,” Dinnel said. “I’ve been getting along with all the people.”