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Classics Take Center Stage at Alhambra Theatre and Dining

By S. Mathur

"Fun," "whimsical," "professional." These are some of the adjectives used to define the Alhambra Theater and Dining experience. The idea of dinner theater was once very popular but has declined in recent times.

Mark D. Berman, Managing Partner of MediaShare, the Theatre's media consulting group, says that "While the Dinner Theater concept is unique to live theater, it has been around for quite some time. The general idea is people typically do dinner and a show - why not give them one-stop shopping and make it easy. In the 1970's there were more than 100 dinner theaters in North America, but sadly there are less than 10 now, with the Alhambra being the longest running having opened in 1967."

Dinner theater, as the name suggests, offers dinner and theater combined, and the Alhambra focuses on "...creating a unique, top quality, memorable experience for our guests and providing an amazing value. Our shows and our actors are Broadway quality and our culinary experience is 3-4 stars." It's also a great value, adds Berman: "And you get it all for under $50 - including parking. When you compare the fact that just parking alone for a downtown show is $30 - then $60-plus per ticket for the show and $60 per person for dinner, it's kind of an easy choice."

Some genres are more suited to dinner theater, says Berman: "We choose our shows based on what our guests tell us they want to see. We built our brand on Broadway shows that are well-known classics, usually musicals and musical comedies. We leave the esoteric edgy stuff for the community theaters and the touring shows that come through town." The Noel Coward play was definitely a favorite, as are musicals like Big River, Annie Get your Gun and The Wiz. The actors are all professionals, and casting is done in New York and Orlando. Many of the cast are equity actors, and have been on Broadway or Off Broadway and in national tours before.

The Alhambra also has its own set-making and costume making facilities. Executive Chef DeJuan Roy is in charge of the kitchen, producing meals that include old favorites as well as contemporary sustainable choices. Berman says, "As for the dining choices, the menu is set for each show, but there are choices - typically two salads, three or four entrees and several desserts. Our Executive Chef changes the menu with every show based loosely on the themes of the show, so it's different every time one visits. We also have an exceptional wine list and a full bar."

Before the show and during intermissions, guest can relax in the Library Lounge, with a fully stocked bar, comfortable sofas and fireplace, where the decor is changed to match the current show. There is also the Alhambra garden, acknowledgement of the theatre's famous namesake, restored along with the rest of the theatre in 2009. It features palm trees, a pool with a fountain and four golden lions, and a tiled courtyard. Guests can walk outside to get a breath of fresh air, and the space is also used to host special events.

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