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'The Arranged Marriage' opens Friday at John-O's

Thomas Rosengren, left, and Lynda Swinney find themselves in handcuffs after leaving their partners at the altar in "Arranged Marriage," opening Friday at John O's Dinner Theatre in Brooten. (Submitted photo)

On the beautiful and historical stage of West Central Minnesota's only dinner theatre, John O's in Brooten, the raucous comedy "The Arranged Marriage" opens this Friday. This fun hour-long production promises to leave you thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Although don't expect anyone to actually get married, but what you can expect is handcuffs, run-away brides, jilted lovers, powder blue tuxes and an ever-present urn of cremated remains.

Whiney and often mousey Ronald Schmidt, played by Thomas Rosengren of Belgrade, along with the pushy and downright cantankerous Diana Henderson, played by Lynda Swinney of Brooten, both find themselves in the office of the deceased Dr. Shaw after each has left their soon-to-be spouses at their respective altars.

At the opening of the production, each of them has just received a phone call from the youthful and intelligent Mr. Edmund Grimes, played by Kieran Swinney, also of Brooten. The phone call asked the pair to please quickly drop what they were doing and go directly to the doctor's office. The confusion begins when they run into one another at the office and wonder why they have both been summoned.

Schmidt, in his hideous powder blue tux with bright red bow tie, is instantly "put off" by Miss Henderson in her giant billowing wedding dress with her clumsy long train and boisterous pushy persona. They immediately butt heads, which is only aggravated further by the fact that the only thing they find in Dr. Shaw's office is an urn with his ashes and the doctor's assistant Mr. Grimes. Grimes announces that the only way for the pair to qualify for their legacy under Dr. Shaw's will is to be handcuffed to one another for 24 hours.

Once the pair is handcuffed, Grimes leaves the pair in the office for the 24-hour "test" when shortly after there is a knock at the door. It seems Miss Henderson's jilted levelheaded groom Danny Gruver, played by David Swinney of Brooten, has trailed them and immediately begins confronting the pair about why they are handcuffed together.

This confrontation is quickly cut short when the kooky and hysterical Dede Truemeier, played by Barb Quade of Brooten, bursts through the door intent on causing Mr. Schmidt severe bodily harm for leaving her at the altar.

Laughs abound as the couples confront each other and begs the question, "Are marriages actually made -- or arranged -- in heaven?"

David Swinney, who not only assembled the perfect cast for this show but also was the technical director for this production, ingeniously directs this lovely show and ensemble cast.

Dinner includes a salad, choice of Roasted Red Pepper/Chicken Linguine or a 10 oz. New York Strip, followed by a lovely piece of amazing wedding cake celebrating a wedding that never really takes place.

If you have never been to John-O's in Brooten, it is worth the visit. Like stepping into the New Orleans French Quarter, this charming dinner theater is a jewel in this small West Central Minnesota community.

Show dates are June 12-13 and 19-20 with seating beginning at 5 p.m. for dinner with a show time of 7:30 p.m. The June 14 and 21 matinees begin seating at 2:30 p.m. for the meal with a show time of 4:30 p.m. Dinner and the show is $30. Show only is $17.50. Reservations can be made by calling 320-346-4330. For other upcoming entertainment offerings at John-O's visit

Brent Roelofs of Willmar has been seen on The Barn Theatre stage for the past few years. He is an avid thespian and definitely knows his way around all aspects of the theater.