The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

'Ole and Lena' keep audiences laughing at Historic Ironwood Theater


January 22, 2018

Steve Newman/Daily Globe

OLE AND Lena, as portrayed by Mike and Julie Bateson, appear at an evening of dining with guests at Sharon's Coffee Company in Hurley Saturday night before presenting "Ole and Lena's 50th Wedding Anniversary and Vow Renewal" at the Historic Ironwood Theatre.

IRONWOOD - Sharon's Coffee Company in Hurley turned into "Ole and Lena's Supper Club" Saturday night, as the performers for the Historic Ironwood Theatre's presentation of "Ole and Lena's 50th Wedding Anniversary and Vow Renewal" joined diners for a five-course Scandinavian dinner before heading to the theater for the play.

The downtown restaurant was filled to capacity for the dinner, and even had to turn down some requests. According to Zona Wick, president of the theater board, Sharon's came to them to help hatch the special opportunity for the dinner before the play.

The two-person play is the brainchild of Mike and Julie Bateson, from Cannon Falls, Minn. They have been doing their different "Ole and Lena" plays across the Midwest for the past 18 years, but this is their first opportunity to put on a show in the U.P.

They draw their humor from the rural community, being out and among the Scandinavian farmers and townspeople, talking to the locals in the bakeries and coffee shops of their small town. They have written nine different shows, and are now starting to branch into "Ole and Lena" musicals. They described putting on their plays as "great fun."

Wick said the theater was happy to invite "Ole and Lena," adding patrons had suggested a comedy production. She said the theater is trying to diversify its offerings, mixing comedy with occasional "bigger name" acts, when they can get sponsorships to help, and also upcoming classical music concerts. The theater is seeking to "think out of the box and put things in the theatre that people can't always get elsewhere."

The show itself was full of laughs as Ole, a crusty old Scandinavian "coot," forgets his 50th anniversary and has planned to enter an ice fishing contest with his best friend, Sven. Lena, though, is having no excuses. She has not only planned a celebration, but also a renewal of their wedding vows. Ole is supposed to not only show up at church, but write his own vows and "spew words of love and devotion." This is where the show becomes interactive as he asked the audience for help.

Ole goes to a "lodge meeting" with the audience, picking people out of the audience to try and help him write his vows, with hilarious results. Through a comedy of errors, Ole and Lena end up together at the celebration, and Ole comes through with the best declaration of love he is able to bring. A night of fun and laughs brings a happy ending to the old married couple.


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