by Libby James
Special occasion coming up? Ready for a relaxing evening out that combines food and entertainment in the same spot? Perhaps it’s time to head for one of several delightful dinner theatres in our area.
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Believe it or not, dinner theatres have been around since the Middle Ages although until quite recently, dinner was served in one room and the show was staged in an adjacent area. In 1953 the Barksdale Theatre came to life in Richmond, Virginia. They served a buffet dinner in an adjoining room before the show went on.
In 1958 Tony DeSantis founded the first Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago. Eventually he operated six dinner theaters in the area. The first theatre to serve dinner and stage the show in the same room opened in 1959.
By the 1970s, dinner theatres were experiencing a heyday, with 147 of them in the country by 1976. But they were in decline by the mid-80’s and by 1999 only nine remained. The landmark Drury Theatre closed in 2003.
Today dinner theaters have made a comeback and there are several to choose from in Northern Colorado featuring everything from murder mysteries to classic musicals.
Boulder Dinner Theatre, 5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. (303) 449-6000. “Small playhouse featuring Broadway-type shows and eats from around the world.” Showing Beauty and the Beast during the month of May. October 5-February 22, 2020, Mama Mia!
Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown (off I-25 halfway between Denver and Cheyenne (970) 744-3747. “Broadway in your backyard. Dedicated to preserving and cultivating the traditional of the American musical. Showing Oliver through May 26. Disney’s Tarzan June 6 through August 25.
The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, 425 W. Prospect St., Fort Collins (866) 496-0535. “America’s largest interactive murder mystery comedy theatre. Solve a crime while you feast on a fantastic four-course plated dinner.”
Jesters Dinner Theatre, 224 Main St., Longmont (303) 682-9980. “Quality intimate theatre. Family-owned. Prices top out at $45.” Through June 7, The Wizard of Oz. July 12-September 29, Nunsense.
Midtown Arts Center, formerly Carousel Dinner Theatre, 3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins (970)225-2555. “Broadway up close and close to home.” Through May 26, My Fair Lady. June 7-Sugust 11, Matilda the Musical.
Some theatres offer a show only option.