By Lizzy Scully
Johnstown’s Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s latest show, playing December 5-March 1, is jam-packed with great, memorable songs, finely choreographed dance routines and superb performers. Plus the food is actually good.
Walking into Johnstown’s Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is like entering a large ballroom, except the floor is tiered and full of tables covered in white linen. The high ceilings and elegant lines reminded me of a small version of the Denver Center of Performing Art’s Temple Buell Theater. It certainly didn’t look like any dinner theater I had ever been to, most of which have lower ceilings and can feel cramped.
According to Peter F. Mueller, co-owner of the Candlelight, the room was purposefully designed to change peoples’ perspectives of what it means to wine and dine at a dinner theater. Not only did they want to present a more appealing stage (it’s quite big and open), but they also hoped to provide better food.
The Candlelight has a chef and a full kitchen staff, and the food was, as Mueller claimed it would be, much better than any dinner theater fare I have sampled. We started with a creamy roasted tomato bisque and crisp salad, both of which were fresh. For my entrée, I tried the Parmesan encrusted tilapia, an 8 oz. fillet of tilapia with a lemon caper pan sauce, served with herbed polenta and roasted spaghetti squash. Though a bit on the sweet side for me, the sauce and crust were still tasty, and I appreciated the novelty of having polenta and squash.
My friend had the balsamic roasted chicken, which was covered with a rich (and you-can’t-go-wrong-with) olive, caper, herb, olive oil, garlic and tomato sauce. For dessert we tried the crème brulèe nestled in an imported chocolate cup and an in-house chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, which both satisfied my palate. We accompanied our meal with a few glasses of my favorite type of wine, Malbec (Broquel from Mendoza, Argentina), which was spicy and smooth and went fairly well with the sweet tilapia and squash.
Our meal was followed by a performance that, in keeping with the quality food and elegant atmosphere, was excellent, fun and technically expert. Typically at dinner theaters, there are plenty of great performers, but I’ve found that most are not well rounded as far as having really good acting, singing, and dancing skills. This musical and dance performance (there was little to no dialogue) was a notch above all other dinner theater performances that I have seen because the lead singers were all awesome, and all had clearly had been trained to dance.
Additionally, the singing was not just good, but great. Kenny Moten and Reyna Von Vett stole the show, with powerful, stunning voices and a dynamic stage chemistry that was just plain fun to watch, especially during their comical rendition of “Bli-Blip,” a fun introduction to their budding and heated stage relationship. Von Vett, an alto, was my favorite of the bunch, especially when she belted out old favorites such as “I’ll Be Seeing You.” I wasn’t surprised to discover that she sang at the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Ball. I also really enjoyed Moten’s toned-down version of “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy.”
With great songs, accompanied by some fun trumpet playing by Rob Reynolds and a fine orchestra, this show was well worth the trip to Johnstown. I highly recommend this as a late Christmas present. And, while most dinner theaters host shows that seem to appeal mostly to older audiences, this would be an excellent show for adults of any age, as well as any newcomers to the dinner theater scene.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call (970) 744-3747 or visit the playhouse’s Web site at: www.coloradocandlelight.com.
<p>Cast members of “Swing” perform with grace and energy at Johnstown’s Candlelight Dinner Theater. The dinner show runs through March 1.</p>