Dinner and a Show! The History of Dinner Theatre

Bored of TV dinners and sitting on the couch? Turn Netflix off and get out for dinner and a show!

Dating back to the Middle Ages (you’ve been to Medieval Times, right?), eating while enjoying a show has long been a popular form of entertainment. In those days, the 12 days of Christmas were celebrated with feasts that alternated acts of a play with food courses. The form of dinner theatre that we’re familiar with began in the 1950s in America.

Dinner was originally ancillary to the show, with it often being optional and served in a separate room. It wasn’t until Howard Douglas Wolf opened his first The Barn Dinner Theatre that things really got fancy.

The Barn Dinner Theatre at one time had 27 franchise theatres operating across the US. Plays were produced and actors were cast in New York, then shipped out to each theatre. The actors lived on site and also served the food.

The Barn was also home to some impressive technological advancements, including a “Magic Stage” stage elevator; at the end of a scene, the stage would lift up into the ceiling and reappear less than a minute later with the set for the next scene!

Despite such names as Robert DeNiro and Mickey Rooney performing at The Barn, only one remains in operation.

Dinner is becoming an even more integral part of the experience now: Chef Rick Bayless co-wrote and starred in a musical a few years ago, cooking, dancing, and acting to great acclaim; and Cirque de Soleil has recently produced a theatrical dining experience in Spain called “Heart”.

Of course, Northumberland Players has been producing popular dinner theatre shows in cooperation with the Best Western Plus Cobourg Inn & Convention Centre for many years now.

The Best Western offers a terrific carvery buffet that begins with freshly baked crusty bread, a fresh salad bar and a selection of pickles and crudités. The hot sides include vegetables steamed to perfection, roasted potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. Main dishes include chicken, and a choice of roast beef or roast pork carved just for you. Save room for a selection of pies, fruit tray, cookies and bars, or the favourites: bread pudding and crème caramel. Water, coffee and tea are served by the attentive servers. The bar is open before the show.

Come enjoy a tasty dinner and a great show with “Stage Kiss“, opening at the Best Western October 18 and running until November 3.