Dinner theater is something that’s big in certain parts of the country, like Branson, Mo., south Florida and the Midwest. It is not a particularly common thing in the Northeast.
So when the opportunity presented itself to take a drive to Lake George and spend an evening with the folks at the Lake George Dinner Theatre, I was intrigued. The theater is located in The Holiday Inn in Lake George, and the evening begins with dinner, about an hour and 45 minutes before the show. Tables hold six or eight, and you can bring your own group or chat with other theater lovers over dinner.
Seated at our table were two couples, one a gregarious outgoing gentleman and his guest who made immediate friends with our ebullient waiter, Stefan; the second was the director of housekeeping at the Holiday Inn and his wife, who informed us that the Turf Corp. (owners of the hotel) gave their employees and guest the option for an evening of dinner theater each season. Kudos to them for offering a very nice perk.
The menu and show are a prix-fixe package with four entrees, from which you choose when you make your reservation. The meals include salad, rolls, veggies, potatoes, dessert and coffee. The food was suprisingly good. Salads were fresh and cold, the rolls warm, and the entrees tasty, generously sized, served hot and prepared as requested. The two dessert options were good (the cheesecake) and excellent (chocolate cake with caramel sauce). The evening was off to a promising start.
The show is Richard Strand’s Power Play, a corporate comedy. Set in Chicago, on the 20th floor of the corporate office of Hellas Inc., a fictional company that we never learn anything about, three characters vie for a chance to fill a slot made vacant by the untimely demise of one of their superiors. Through the use of their wiles, brains and ability to connive, cajole and coerce the others, they maneuver for the chance to get the big promotion and the coveted corner office.
Michael Frederic, Katie McDermott and Brain Wallace play the three office stereotypes. Wallace is Barry, the groomed for successor to the office, who gets there simply by being there. McDermott is the overlooked hard worker neurotic woman in a man’s world, and Frederic is A.C., the conniver of the group, the catalyst who sets the events of the play in motion. Jim Ganser is the malleable boss, Marlino, who must ultimately make the decision. And so the antics begin.
The set by Clarke Dunham is outstanding. He makes the most of the relatively small intimate space. The only obvious flaws are minimal the desk lamp not only never works, but the audience is close enough to see it has neither a bulb nor a cord attached; the computers are never running even when the characters are `using them.`
These are minor foibles and easily overlooked when compared with the major problem of the production. Terry Rabine’s direction is so incredibly heavy handed the actors almost universally overact to the point of annoyance. McDermott is the greatest offender. Her part would be so much more effective were she allowed to lay back and let the role lead her rather than try and milk every word, inflection, movement and glance. She comes across as being a total buffoon, but because of the way she acts, not the way the role is written. Ganser and Wallace are also victims of overly emoting but are almost tolerable. Frederic is the saving grace of the evening. He commands the stage with a coolness and ease as the slimy A.C. that is actually believable. The show did have some funny moments; slapstick and verbal barbs that the audience appreciated.
When all is said and done, an evening of dinner theater in the Capital District is novel and entertaining. The cost for dinner and a show is $53. ($45 for the matinee). A drive, dinner and a show make for a twist on an otherwise predictable date night.
`Power Play` runs Tuesday through Saturday evenings, dinner starts at 6:30 p.m., the show at 8:15. The luncheon matinees are Wednesday, Thursday and select Saturdays. For reservations (which are a must) and information, call the box office at 668-5762, ext. 411 or visit the Web at www.lakegeorgedinnertheatre.com.“