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'The Ark'

The New Wine troupe practices for upcoming performances of "The Ark: What To Do When Life's A Zoo." The dinner theatre performances are fundraisers for New Wine's summer tour and service trip to the Pacific Northwest in June. Photo by Nancy Woodke, Sun Tribune.

When you think about the biblical story of the Ark, rarely do you stop to think, "How did all those animals get along in there?"

But First Lutheran Church Pastor Todd Mattson did, and it's the basis for this year's New Wine production, "The Ark: What To Do When Life's A Zoo."

New Wine will reprise the 2003 show during dinner theatre performances on May 10, 13, 16, 17 at First Lutheran. The shows begin at 6 p.m., and admission includes a four-course meal in the "Jungle Cafe, entertainment by Captive Free, and the performance of "The Ark" in the church sanctuary.

The performances are fundraisers for New Wine to take "The Ark" on tour in June to the Pacific Northwest and Ketchikan, Alaska.

"It's a story of how (the animals) all got along, and it became a metaphor for us getting along in this big Ark that is the world," Mattson said. "It's about how we become a community, and there's a theme of reconciliation in it."

This is New Wine's ninth year, and the broad appeal of "The Ark" from 2003 made an encore a natural, Mattson said.

A couple of the "old" New Winers who appeared in the first performances are helping with this year's show, he said.

"It's one of the favorites," he said. "New characters, new kids doing it -- it feels different. It puts a whole new spin on it."

Mattson said New Wine performed "The Ark" at a church in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at a time when many church members had their homes destroyed by wild fires. They thanked the New Wine group for giving them a message of encouragement at a difficult time.

"It was a moving moment for all of us there," he said.

The 52 members of the New Wine troupe leave on their 4,500-mile, 16-day tour on June 15. They will perform in six venues in Canada, as well as Port Angeles and Seattle in Washington, and Missoula, Mont.

The troupe also will be engaging in service projects on the tour, which is dubbed a "major tour year," Mattson said.

Major tours are every other year, with the tours in between scheduled for shorter times and closer to Morris, he said.

Last year, New Wine performed "Rhythm and Word" in the Chicago area, while also doing some service work in an inner-city school and at a soup kitchen.

Since then, the troupe has been raising money and preparing for the spring local performances, Mattson said.

Tickets for "The Ark" are available at First Lutheran and must be purchased in advance. For more information, call (320) 589-3242.