On the evenings of November 18th and 19th, the dining hall at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts transformed into a formal dinner theater complete with candlelit tables and a full stage. A school tradition of over 30 years, Roosevelt’s dinner theater involves students as both performers and wait staff. City Year Milwaukee was well-represented at this year’s event, filling an entire table with about 15 guests. We were all excited to be supporting our students, as well as celebrating the product of their hard work and long hours of practice.
Upon arrival to the event, we were greeted and led to our table by an enthusiastic student host. A delicious meal, which included an entrée and dessert course, was served by a charmingly comical wait staff. The show itself began directly after dinner tables were cleared. The Complaint Department and Lemonade, this year’s play title, featured students from all grades (6th-8th). Set in the complaint department of a larger department store, the play introduced a variety of characters who arrived to voice their problems. As intended, the play was humorous and goodhearted. In the end, the audience was reminded of how trivial our everyday complaints can be; it is more important to be thankful and help others. The show was a definite success, earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
Soon enough, The Complaint Department and Lemonade advertising poster (pictured) will hang among those from previous dinner theater posters that color the school’s hallways—a constant reminder of the event’s continued popularity and success. Perhaps one secret to this ongoing success is the dedication and collaboration of students, their families, and Roosevelt’s wonderful staff. “[I love that] we all got to work together,” said one of the 6th grade performers. While attending the event, I could feel that positive sense of community and comradery. I feel extremely lucky to have witnessed this Roosevelt tradition; long live dinner theater!