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Ralph Downs Elementary students practice singing, waiting tables for dinner theater

Fourth- and fifth-graders at Ralph Downs Elementary in the Oklahoma City area's Putnam City School District are planning to raise money with a May 10 dinner theater.
BY STEVE LINDLEY Published: April 26, 2012

When Ralph Downs Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders put on a dinner theater, it's not the theater part that challenges them. It's the dinner part.

As generations of parents have witnessed, children are natural performers. Put them on the stage and they will sing and dance with abandon. But ask them to carry plates of food and serve dinner to a roomful of adults? That's when the nerves kick in.

Ralph Downs choral students will host a dinner theater production of “Broadway Beat” at 6:30 p.m. May 10. The dinner theater is a fundraiser for the Putnam City school's music program.

“Broadway Beat” is a revue that transports the audience through generations of Broadway hits, starting with George M. Cohan's standards before moving on to selections from classics such as “The Music Man,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Grease,” “Hairspray,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” and “Wicked.” The hourlong program is a mix of songs sung by the school's chorus, numbers belted out by student soloists and some snappy dialogue to introduce the numbers.

Before students hit the stage, though, they must serve dinner to about 200 guests, mostly family members and teachers.

“I think the hardest part of this for students is the serving part. We talk a lot beforehand about service and manners, and they have to remember and use what they've learned. They also have to be calm and wait patiently for their food. If things start moving fast or become harried, they have to deal with it,” said Katie Robertson, the school's vocal music teacher.

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