This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday Oct 24, 2023
As I’m sure you’re well aware, we are currently in the midst of the spooky season. Everyone is busy preparing their costumes for trick-or-treating, the parade is almost ready to go, all the candy is prepared for distribution, and, right in the middle of it all, the St. Mary’s theater has been invaded by the Ditchmen.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Ditchmen, they are the brainchild of Joe Ginter, a beloved long-time St. Mary’s school teacher. He has authored a series of books featuring the Ditchmen invading a small town. These mysterious beings are known for their antics, which include pilfering pizza, launching golf balls, and even sporadically abducting people. Nobody knows where they came from or why they’re here, but our very own Joe Ginter, I mean, Jay Griner, is diligently trying to unravel the mystery.
“The Ditchmen” is a wonderfully family-friendly play being showcased on the stage of our recently renovated and truly magnificent theater. In this play, Jay Griner, portrayed by yours truly, is on a mission to discover the origins and purpose of the Ditchmen. During his journey, Mr. G encounters a vibrant cast of characters and finds himself abducted by the Ditchmen not once, not twice, but three times. A significant portion of the town even believes that Mr. G has some control over the Ditchmen, even though he is as clueless about their origins as everyone else is.
“The Ditchmen” is a highly interactive experience with plenty of souvenirs tossed into the audience. If you’re seated in the balcony, you might even have the chance to be served a slice of pizza by one of the Ditchmen. It’s a heartfelt story about Mr. G, who’s in his final year of teaching when his wife is involved in a mysterious accident. Now he has to contend with not only the enigmatic Ditchmen who seem to be targeting him but also dodge government agents who are suddenly snooping around. He has to work diligently to be a good teacher to the students who adore him, all while trying to unravel the last science project his wife was working on. Along the way, he stands up for a student who’s being bullied, offers some less-than-helpful dating advice to one of his students, and even throws a punch at a football coach.
The performances of “The Ditchmen” will be held on the next two Sundays, October 29 and November 5, at 7:00 PM. Our best estimate is that the play will run for approximately an hour and 45 minutes. Yes, there are monsters in it, but they’re more like the friendly monsters you’d find in a Scooby-Doo episode, so nothing to be frightened of. Children will enjoy the exciting events, and adults will connect with the story of a man who has lost his way in life.
Tickets are priced at $15, and you can purchase them on the theater’s website at https://www.grandoperahouselive.com/tickets. Seats are reserved, which means you pay for the specific seat you want. This way, you’ll know exactly where you’ll be seated when you arrive at the theater. The concession stand will be open, and all proceeds will go toward the renovation of the Ballroom on the third floor of the theater.
Expect lots of twists, turns, and a few surprises along the way, along with some familiar faces in the cast. This has been a collaborative local effort to bring Joe Ginter’s vision to life after several years of planning. I can tell you, having been at rehearsals over the past month, that no one has enjoyed this process more than Joe has. If any of you laugh as heartily as he has, you might leave the theater with your sides aching. He co-wrote this story with the assistance of many of his students, and it is our hope that they will come to see the vision they helped create come to life.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to enjoy a piece of pizza served to you by a friendly monster or witness a local theater production of a homegrown story performed by talented local individuals, or if you’re just up for seeing a bunch of monsters carry me off (multiple times), this might just be the show for you!