The National Theater in London was one of the pioneers of in-house entertainment venues in theaters. The riverside complex in London includes a fine dining restaurant, a bookstore, and other casual food choices. Drinks are standard choices in modern theaters. Patrons, as well as the cast, mingle in these new restaurants and bars. Patrons and the cast discuss the play and any other theater chatter that is worthy of the night. The Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago recently opened a new theater and a lounge. The Lincoln Park theater is one of many theaters that are making the theater experience a multidimensional experience. These new theater venues are worthy of the name “dinner theaters.”
The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, has a gift shop, fine restaurants, and bars in their new entertainment complex. Thanks to a number of transit options, theater patrons can drink and not drive home after the performance. That is an attractive and important feature, according to a recent article published by the New York Times.
Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater has a members list that includes Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. The theater opened a third stage last year. That venue is an 80-seat theater designed for intimate shows. The new extension has a Front Bar inspired by the popular Boka restaurant group. The Front Bar is a coffee house that opens at 7 a.m. Lunch and dinner menu includes pizza, sandwiches, and salads. The bar is open until midnight, and it draws a pre-and post-curtain crowd of patrons as well as cast members.
Second City, the famous comedy club, did the same thing last year when the club opened the 1959 Restaurant and Bar. The eatery got its name from the year the club was opened. Mingling with actors is not a new idea, but the concept is being expanded thanks to the addition of upbeat restaurants and bars in the theaters. Patrons love the idea. They can enjoy a meal before the show in the theater, and they can hang around after the show and talk to the cast. That’s a true 21st-century dinner theater experience.
A brand new immersive adaptation of the classic musical Sweeny Todd has just re-opened off-Broadway. This revival of Sweeny Todd has just officially opened at the Barrow Street Theatre as of March 1st.
The London-based Tooting Arts Club first premiered their more intimate version of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical in an actual meat pie shop in the British capital. Tooting Arts Club’s performance was so successful in the U.K. that they decided to try their luck in NYC a few months ago.
Designers have converted the Barrow Street Theatre into a working meat pie shop for Tooting Arts Club’s production. Audience members can purchase real meat pies with mashed potatoes and hot parsley sauce before the show starts. There are also vegetarian pies available for any herbivores in the crowd.
Jeremy Secomb plays the “demon barber” Sweeney Todd in this production. Secomb is perhaps best known to Londoners for his West End portrayal of Javert in Les Misérables.
Playing the wonderfully witty Mrs. Lovett is Irish actress Siobhán McCarthy. In addition to stage work, McCarthy has appeared on numerous television shows including Bad Girls and Holby City.
A few other actors in this production include Duncan Smith as Judge Turpin, Matt Doyle as Anthony, and Joseph Taylor as Tobais. All of these original cast members will play their roles from March 1st till April 9th in NYC.
When April 11th rolls around, Norm Lewis is expected to take on the role of Sweeney Todd. Carolee Carmello will play Mrs. Lovett after Siobhán McCarthy leaves in April.
Since this production is extremely intimate, the score has been re-imagined for just three musicians. Critics have almost unanimously praised this production of Sondheim’s epic tale of love, loss, and revenge.
Interested theatre buffs can now order tickets for this production of Sweeney Todd online through August 13th.
Miss Saigon, the Tony Award winning musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Shonberg, began previews on March 1, 2017 and is set to open officially on March 23 for a Broadway run through January 2018 and a tour to follow. The story of a young Vietnamese woman falling for an American GI just before the fall of Saigon and the resulting tragedy originally opened on Broadway in 1991 and ran for 4,111 shows, breaking box office records and earning rave reviews from fans and critics. The play was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning three-Best Performances for Lead Actor, Actress, and Featured Actor in a Musical.
Stars of this upcoming revival include performers from the 2014 London revival. Eva Noblezada will return in the lead female role of Kim, as well as Jon Jon Briones as the engineer. Alistair Brammer and Rachelle An Go will also reprise the roles of Chris and Gigi, respectively. This production is directed by Laurence Connor. The musical staging and choreography are done by Bob Avian and Geoffrey Garratt.
The original production, while widely popular, was not without controversy. Initially, the casting of Eurasian actors to play Asian male roles was disputed, and denouncers have accused the play of perpetuating negative stereotypes, especially of Asian women, and railed against what they claim to be racist and misogynist themes.
For those wishing to catch this revival, tickets can be found online at saigonbroadway.com and at telecharge.com, or can be ordered by phone by calling (212) 239-6200 or (800) 447-7400.