Dinner theater is alive and, yes, well (to an extent)
Buried among the trends underpinning the Southern California theater scene in 2010 (i.e. the quality versus the timidity of works staged in the smaller houses; a resurgence of economically viable one-man/one-woman shows), there proved to be some interesting news from the dinner theater circuit.
Dinner theater? As in, community-level acting meets mystery meat meal, threadbare renditions of 50-year-old musicals and who-under-the-age-of-75-knew-they-still-even-exist?
Stereotyped characterizations aside, yes, dinner theater. It turns out that this critically reviled, nostalgically imbued and often forgotten form is alive and, more important, thriving in two houses on the perimeters of Southern California, both of which are celebrating anniversary milestones in 2011.
-- Christopher Smith
Photo: In the 2010 production of "The Will Rogers Follies" at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont are, from left, Angel Castellanos, Brandon Heitkamp, Kevin Holmquist, Orlando Montes and Danny Michaels. Credit: Amy Snyder