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story.lead_photo.caption Submitted by Chris DurenThe cast of “Uncle Phil’s Diner” poses for a group photo. The interactive performance will be at Lighthouse Preparatory Academy at 6 p.m. Friday and at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Mark your calendars for a flashback to the '50s, complete with musical numbers, dancing and diner-style hamburgers and hot dogs served by students at Lighthouse Preparatory Academy.

The Christian academy will put on "Uncle Phil's Diner," an interactive dinner theater performance. It's a simple story — the cast acts as stand-in entertainment for a no-show band — but it's one that can get everyone engaged and laughing.

Director Chris Duren said a dinner performance is different from traditional theater because "you actually get to be a part of this show." She encouraged attendees to be prepared to talk to their servers or be willing to volunteer for games and activities and just "come prepared to have a great time."

"(The cast) do have a script, but students will be — because of the interactiveness — speaking to customers as they come in. These kids are working on improv skills and staying in character no matter what, even just passing out drinks," she said.

It may sound intimidating to some, but Duren promised a family-friendly environment.

"Because of the era where the music comes from, it's really a show that is a great intergenerational (show)," she said. "It's a great thing to invite grandma or grandpa to because they love the music."

And there's no shortage of it. The cast has even employed the skill of two seniors, Maci Marsch and Sophia Palmeri, in choreographing the musical numbers. Duren said it's a great opportunity for Marsch and Palmeri to showcase their gifts with other students and the community.

"The students at Lighthouse, they blow me away every time they do our production with their talent. They're such talented kids, but the best thing about them is their hearts. They have a heart to serve the community," Duren said.

And, in the spirit of Lighthouse Prep's core values, Duren likened the teamwork among the large (over two dozen) cast to the "hands and feet" of the church body. No one cast member is more important than the other, and the show is only a success when the team works together.

"They're all stars in this show," she said, then added, "I'm really excited. The show is going to be great."

"Uncle Phil's Diner" will open at 6 p.m. Friday at Lighthouse Preparatory Academy (216 El Mercado Plaza). Two more performances will be at 1 and 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 and cover dinner consisting of "Phil's famous hamburger or hot dog" with chips, a side of applesauce and the homemade dessert of the day. For ticket information, call 573-645-5253.

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