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Slope County musical theater at its best: 'King Artie and Knights of the Rad Table'

Merlin the magician wakes up from a 1,500-year nap to transport two teenagers back to Medieval times.

Artie is crowned king after he pulls a sword from a stone, while Gwen meets Lancelot and the legendary Knights of the Rectangular Table. And when Artie is kidnapped by the evil Morgan La Fey, the king's clumsy, but devoted knights set out to rescue him.

"My character is described as a rather bumbling magician in the play -- I work well at the bumbling," joked actor Brent Voigt.

Voigt, together with a diverse cast of entertainers, tell the story of "King Artie and the Knights of the Rad Table" during a dinner musical theater in Amidon on Feb. 15, 17 and 23.

Voigt works on a ranch 15 miles southwest of Rhame. After living in the city, he appreciates the opportunity to live in a rural community.

"My closest neighbor is one mile away -- I have the place to myself and really enjoy it," he said.

His commitment to Amidon is traced to his childhood.

"My mom was originally from this community and she was raised on the Deep Creek Ranch west of Amidon," he said.

Voigt, who ordered a Merlin's wig, beard and magician's robe, described the play as quite humorous.

"When the actors start developing their characters, they add their own tidbits, making it even more funny than normal," he said. "It's really good entertainment."

Voigt and the cast have been rehearsing for two months, but he doesn't mind the 120-mile round trip into Amidon.

"I enjoy acting because it's so different," he said. "I spent my whole life on stage playing country western music," Voigt said.

The dinner theater is co-directed by Donald Nordby and Keri Youngstrand.

Nordby is doing the dinner theater as a fundraiser for the Slope County Fair Board. The board previously sponsored summer fair shows, but decided to try a dinner theater five years ago.

"They were a hit and have grown from there," he said.

Nordby, who ranches east of Amidon, works with a cast of more than 25 people -- many with musical backgrounds.

The actors drive for rehearsals from areas surrounding Amidon, New England, Scranton, Bowman and Rhame, he said.

"We're having fun memorizing our parts and trying not to look like a fool in front of our peers," Nordby joked.

Will Charboneau, who teaches music at Scranton High School, is playing the role of Sir Lancelot.

"Sir Lancelot is a charming knight -- he's basically a ladies man," Charboneau said.

Lancelot and his fellow knights must slay a dragon and rescue the king from a chamber of perils including skeletons and bats.

He described the mystery dinner theater as bringing life and joy to the community.

"It's been fun and really nice being with different groups in the community," he said.

Youngstrand, who lives near Bowman, also plays the dragon.

Detailed costuming is involved, with armor for the knights and dresses for the ladies, she said.

The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Amidon Community Center with the menu including Cornish game hens and wild rice to fit with the Medieval theme.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the Slope County Courthouse at 701-879-6275. Tickets are $30 each.

The Friday and Saturday performances are sold out. Tickets remain for the Sunday, Feb. 17, performance.

A waiting list also was started in case tickets are returned.