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From Sioux City to Waukee: this is the Rhinestone Theater

/ Featured in Comedy

Back in the day, my grandparents used to co-host a variety show with their friends in Sioux City. They’d get together every year or two to put on a night of fun. They would write their acts and practice leading up to the big night where they would compete for the “ham” award—a canned ham that would go to the best act of the night. They called it the Rhine-Stone Theatre, a name combining their last name, Rhinehart, and their co-host’s last name, Stone.

The Ham Award
The Stones (left) and the Rhineharts (right) deliver the “ham” award.

About 10 couples would get together for a supper of lasagna and many laughs. Everyone would arrive on time with little time for chit-chat. They wanted to perform and get the party started.

This is Waukee, IA, USA

My husband and I don’t host a lot of parties with big groups. The last time we went all out was our housewarming party! Like Jerry Gergich, we tend to turn in early after listening to a little Anita Baker.

But recently, we decided it’s time to do something that scares us. We will bring back the Rhinestone Theater (slight changes to spelling) to our basement and just be vulnerable! Comedy, music, drama—it will be fun! Will people show up? Do people even have interest in this sort of thing? What if no one wants to perform? Should we send out paper invitations? Should we prepare a four-course meal for the whole gang?

As Michael Scott said in The Office season 3 episode “Safety Training” as he was preparing to jump off the roof and onto a bouncy castle, “This is about doing, not thinking.” 

Similarly for us, and also, very different for us, we knew we just needed to try it. Just do it. But to be honest, a lot of thought went into it. We wanted people to feel comfortable going outside of their comfort zones.

We decorated the basement with halloween lights (hosted in October) and random chairs we rounded up throughout our house. A cooler to hold the beers. A giant bowl for popcorn. And 10 caramel apples for that time of year.

Rhinestone Theater, Waukee, IA
All of the chairs in our house.

It was a good time. We had piano, saxophone, guitar, a dramatic reading and some jokes in our program. Josh and I were so relieved after the party, but also excited about hosting more in the future. The contagious after-effects of the night were delivered the next day via texts asking for the date of the next Rhinestone Theater. Did we just start something? Probably not. But we’ll see.

Bri and Josh playing piano and singing at the Rhinestone Theater
Bri and Josh singing and playing piano perfectly.

Preparing for this event, I couldn’t help but think a lot about my grandparents. They were fun people. I would have wanted to be their friend back in the day. Getting together with friends, writing skits, making costumes, indulging in lasagna. They had some good times.