Religion may be a question of faith and science a matter of fact, but the two meshed in a musical comedy staged by a north Portland congregation.
Written by Jim Van Dyke and his son, Andrew, The Bride of Frankenpastor details a quest by the fictional Whale County Lutheran Church to find a pastor. Appropriately enough, the Van Dykes' congregation, Bethel Lutheran, is searching for a pastor.
Conventional efforts to line up a minister proved fruitless for Whale County, whose candidates included a circus performer who favored fire-eating for Pentecost, a Lawrence Welk wannabe who wanted to use a bubble machine during communion, and a ventriloquist "more wooden than his dummy."
So the call committee tries a different approach. They hire a mad scientist (who was renting space in the church basement) to create a pastor — and spouse.
The musical played to overflow crowds during its 11 performances last November.
"It takes so much time and effort, we just can't do any more than that," said Loretta Van Dyke, Jim's wife and part of the support crew during Frankenpastor, one of dozens of shows the "Bethel Players" have staged over nearly three decades. "We crammed 100 or 110 people into a room that really only holds 75."
The Players' efforts serve as a fund-raiser for Bethel (weekly attendance is about 45) and its drop-in center for kids after school and during the summer. Frankenpastor generated roughly $18,000 (1,000 tickets sold) and was the fourth production co-written by the Van Dykes.
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