LaComedia still offers unique theater experience.
At about that age my grandparents took me to see Peter Pan at LaComedia. As a budding musician I was more excited than the average kid my age, but I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. From the realization that we would actually have dinner while we watched the show to the moment that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell flew over our heads in the show I knew I would always remember this incredible experience.
The Dinner Theater
La Comedia opened in 1975 with the production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Since that time LaComedia has offered the Miami Valley a unique theater experience that includes both dinner and show. According to the Warren County website, La Comedia is actually one of the nation’s largest remaining professional dinner theaters.
“There are only a handful of true dinner theaters anywhere in the nation and very few that were built specifically to be a dinner theater, as our building was,” says Justin Walton, marketing director for the theater. “It’s a unique experience to see a Broadway-style show and have a nice meal all under one roof—not to mention a great value.”
What to See
Each year, LaComedia features six Broadway hits along with a concert series and children’s performances. For 2017, the Broadway lineup includesSister Act, now running through June, Beauty and the Beast, running from July through August and for the first time on their stage Mamma Mia, beginning in late August. For each production talent is cast from auditions in New York City, as well as locally.
Although Walton says every show is different, it is common for the performers to come out into the theater during the performance.
“For shows such as Peter Pan, Phantom and The Wizard of Oz, the performers even fly out over the audience. The performers are also in the lobby following every show so the audience has a chance to meet them and take pictures.”
The 2017 Concert Series includes performers like The Van Dells, Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers, and the Tom Daugherty Orchestra. The children’s theater is offering “Camp Comedia,” a summer musical camp in July. The camp is taught by theater professionals and focuses on creating drama and scenes, singing and dancing to music from various Broadway musicals and ends with an on-stage performance.
Make Your Mouth Water
For every performance, guests are treated to an incredible buffet meal prior to the start of the show. The theater’s menu gets rave reviews from patrons. The buffet-style meal features its signature salad with papaya chutney dressing, a selection of chef-carved meats, deep-fried Norwegian cod, a variety of pastas and fresh vegetables and specially themed rotating dishes that represent the flavor of each current production. Not to mention its famous sweet potato soufflé.
“The sweet potato soufflé first appeared on our buffet in the mid 80s and was so popular it became a staple on our menu in 1987 and it hasn’t missed a show since,” says Walton. It is so popular the venue actually has the recipe on the LaComedia website.
Walton believes that while the majority of LaComedia’s audiences come from the Miami Valley they also have season subscribers who come to every show from as far as Indiana and Kentucky.
“With our convenient location right off (Interstate) 75 travelers from all over the country often choose to see a show along their way.”
While dinner theaters had their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, the genre continues to serve a special purpose in American culture. For many families these performances are the first and sometimes only theater they attend. LaComedia offers a less intimidating theater experience and serves as an entry point for many people into the arts, making them vital to our arts programs across the region.
For more information on LaComedia’s 2017 season or to buy tickets go online to lacomedia.com.
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