Last night, I went down to TheatreNow to enjoy a night of dinner and theater. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect to have nearly as much fun as I did.
When I told several of my buddies about my evening plans for Friday night, several scoffed and rolled their eyes. Dinner theater? Halloween/zombie dinner theater? Really? I defended the show because I was excited about it. From what I understood before I went to the show, the food was actually quite good and wasn’t going to be gimmicky like eating grapes that look like eyeballs or hot dogs cut up to look like fingers. And the three one-act plays looked interesting.
Excited to treat myself to a cultural night out, I dressed up in my favorite suit and drove the couple hour trip with fun music on the stereo. I hadn’t taken the time to eat before I left so when I did arrive at the theater just before the doors opened, I was rather hungry. I didn’t have a reservation or a ticket, as I wasn’t entirely certain that my schedule would actually allow me to attend the theater last night, and the staff was incredibly courteous and chose a table for me. They set out some water for me and I went out to run some errands and then came back. Once seated, I was presented with the appetizer: Wicked Witch’s Dip, which was warm spinach and artichoke dip, served with fresh pita chips. It was absolutely delicious. I happily munched away at my pita chips while absorbing the atmosphere of my surroundings. One of the key things that really struck me was how intimate this theater setting is. One of the gentlemen on the staff was nice enough to chat with me for a few minutes and he told me that the theater was built from the ground up to be exactly what it is, and I absolutely thought it was fantastic. My table was against the stage and I don’t think there are more than 30 tables in the entire theater.
The first act,”Dr. Herbert West: Re-Animator” was adapted by Chase Harrison from H.P. Lovecraft as a classic reanimation tale. Once the curtain went up, there was a short and kind of cute little video on a projector screen and I realized just how intimate show was going to be. As the first act started, I could see the facial expressions on the actors and actresses and I really thought that this helped to add depth to the story. Most of the musical and theater experiences I’ve had until now have all been from the distant seats of an anonymous audience member, sitting in a nondescript row of ordinary theater seats. This was so much different than that. I could see the characters sweat and smile, and most of them did an amazing job with their overall acting. While I am not entirely certain that I was supposed to be as amused with this act as I was, I found myself enjoying the show and laughing probably more than I was supposed to. But I guess I wouldn’t be a very good horror writer if I didn’t think all the wrong things were funny 🙂
As the curtain went down after the first act, the wonderful wait staff brought out my entrée of Devilish Chicken, which was deviled boneless chicken thighs over seasoned basmati rice with toasted almonds, tomato chutney and spinach. The theater also offered a shrimp dish or a vegetarian dish, but I went with chicken. So while I can’t speak for the other meals, I can say that mine was rather tasty and I enjoyed it very much. I also think it went well with the second act, “Dine and Dash” by Anghus Houvouras. This act was completely centered around a blind date that makes you cringe right from the start. I’m fairly certain the actual dating world is exactly like this act and it makes me happy that I’ve never participated in blind dates, let alone blind dates like this. I spent most of my time during this act being either mildly horrified or extremely amused that there are really people out there that are just like this and that they don’t see anything uncomfortable about their behavior. I liked how I could continue eating my dinner and it kind of felt like I was part of the play. Like I was a spectator to a really terrible date that was happening in real life, but that I was supposed to be a spectator. See, I don’t actually like eavesdropping on other people’s lives because it’s generally none of my business, but this was okay because it was an act in a play. I found this act to be also very amusing and I liked how the intimate setting of the theater assisted with the sense of the play. I have to say that what did happen at the end was not exactly what I was expecting, but I did find it hilarious.
As the curtain came down after the second act and the fantastic wait staff brought out my dessert of Dead Pudding, which was rice pudding with pumpkin parts custard sauce and pistachio dust, which was quite good. As my dessert concluded, the curtain went up for the third act, “A Letter To Dave from the Zombie Apocalypse of Hurricane Irene” by Calie Voorhis. This act was a lot of fun and brought in a lot of the local scenes that people from this area would appreciate. The zombie apocalypse started at the Piggly Wiggly, which if you’ve not travelled through the south-eastern states in the U.S. you might not be amused by. I really wanted to get up on stage and start dancing with them when they went to the bar and I thought the touch about going to the theater was highly amusing because of “The Sound of Music” stuff combined with zombies. I laughed a lot during this act as well.
The actors and actresses and stage crew did a marvelous job of creating a believable scene with very limited space and resources and I highly applaud them for their professionalism. I also enjoyed the intimate theater setting because there were several times when I was close enough to poke the actors or actresses, and I almost got hit with both a flying cork and a flying robber’s mask 🙂 I would have laughed if I had, which may not be the normal response to these things.
The lighting was done so well throughout the entire show that there were at least two times when I was ready to swear that the candle flame in my table decoration pumpkin had changed colors. And the reds really brought out the crazy people eyes in the actors and actresses. The greens made things feel almost surreal. The lighting definitely augmented my dining and theater experience.
Also, I really want the entire soundtrack to the whole night. The music, both between acts and during acts, added to the October / Halloween atmosphere and I really enjoyed the scene-setting that the music accomplished throughout the entire night. Seriously. I want the soundtrack.
Overall, I think this theater experience is a solid three on my rating scheme. I would definitely go again and I encourage anyone who is local to go so that they can enjoy a nice meal out with a fun night of zombie theater. And also support the arts, because that’s something I believe in.
Here is the TheatreNow website: http://www.theatrewilmington.com/