Tag Archives: Derby Dinner Playhouse

Oklahoma

More than OK

More than OK

On a cross country road trip, just wanting to get through the state of Oklahoma on a trip out west, we randomly pulled off the highway and into a state park to sleep. We had no expectations of the state and was in a hurry to get through it painlessly. Upon waking we were met with the most beautiful and wonderful surprise. Red Rock Canyon State Park was the first of many incredible sights in Oklahoma. I had similar expectations about the musical, set over a hundred years ago and wondering what relevance it could have for me. Derby Dinner Playhouse’s production of Oklahoma was similarly full of beauty and surprise. The seventy-eight-year-old Pulitzer prize winning Rogers and Hammerstein musical is timeless in its universal themes of love and jealousy, intrigue and danger set in the Oklahoma territory in the time leading up to statehood. The director addressed the audience before the play began relating the themes of warring cowboys and farmers in Oklahoma to the world today at large and the need for people with different backgrounds to find common ground and work together, regardless of what you believe or who you love. That statement resonated through the cornfields and the prairie in the love story of Curly and Laurey (Ryan Skerchak and Kaitlyn Sage), and the anger and rage of Jud (played menacingly by Bobby Conte), whose powerhouse voice filled the playhouse. Aunt Eller (Mandi Elkins Hutchins) is the elderly, wise matriarch of the little town outside of Claremont, Oklahoma. Played with wit and humor expertly by Mandi Elkins Hutchins, last seen as a gorgeous and flamboyant divorcee in Mamma Mia. Derby Dinner Playhouse consistently does so many things right from the plentiful salad bar and delicious buffet to the dessert selection. Southern home cooking featuring fried chicken and fish, turkey tetrazzini and carved ham and turkey with all the fixings was almost enough to fill us up, but the temptation was too great to not partake of a new dessert item, the pecan pie cake. The theatre attracts amazing talent as servers who double as footnotes, opening the show and showcasing desserts, drinks and future shows. Some of the servers pull triple duty as footnotes and cast members and never miss a beat in any of them. Oklahoma is chock full of traditional folk type music, Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, square dancing and even lasso tricks all performed exceptionally well. Combined with authentic period costuming, the viewers are transported to a different time in American life. Aesthetically, my favorite part of Derby Dinner Productions are the creative uses of space and set design. Theatre in the round presents unique opportunities for set pieces. The audience was literally on Aunt Eller’s porch and in the blink of an eye (with the help of creative lighting and dropped set pieces) we found ourselves transported to Jud’s frightening and steamy smokehouse. Corn stalks appeared and disappeared from the ceiling and lighting let us know that Laurey was having an intense, dark dream about Jud and Curly. One of my favorite moments came just as Laurey inhaled the smelling salts that would give her the answers she was seeking. Illuminated by a spot light as the rest of the stage slowly melted away in darkness, Laurey reaches back before sleeping. Her pose struck me as an exact replica of a favorite famous painting, Christina’s world by Andrew Wyeth. It was either an incredible coincidence or a bit of directing brilliance. I tend to

think the latter, as so much of Derby Dinner Playhouse’s production was brilliant. Like the diverse and wonderful state, the musical astonishes and delights from one end to the other.

Oklahoma runs through May 27, 2018 For show times and ticket information visit https://derbydinner.com

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive, Clarksville IN 47129
812.288.8281

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Derby Dinner Does It Right

1By JD Dotson | Photos by Christian Watson & JD Dotson

Open for nearly 45 years, Derby Dinner

Playhouse remains the only dinner theater of its

type in the Louisville/Southern Indiana region.

The theater in the round setup immerses the

audience in the action. There is not a bad seat in

the house, with actors entering and exiting the

centrally-located stage through the audience.

The shows range from huge Broadway mega-hits

to children’s programming, holiday favorites and

lighthearted comedies and musical acts.

I recently had the great pleasure of seeing

“Mamma Mia!” this season, a musical set to the

infectious music of Abba and was completely

amazed at what a brilliant production I witnessed.

The music and dancing had me singing along and

tapping my feet the whole time. Some of those

Abba songs are still stuck in my head.

I brought my hubby along, and we started out

with dinner, which is served buffet style with a

salad bar. I felt it was my duty to try everything for

the sake of being thorough. My spinach salad was

fresh and delicious, and the salad bar was loaded

with toppings as well as broccoli and tomato/

cucumber salads. I have a strict rule to not fill up

on salad when a buffet is involved but made an

exception for the sake of journalism. The buffet

was equally delightful on my second trip. Fried

chicken, pasta, carved turkey, broccoli and rice,

and a baked potato, and being a serious member

of the clean-plate club, I filled up. Luckily, we held

off on dessert until intermission.

The pre-show entertainment, or FootNotes,

consists of a group of men and women serenading

the audience during their meal with classic

Broadway show tunes and dancing. Then: There’s

my server! He was just here at our table taking a

drink order and – all of a sudden – he was singing

and dancing on the stage.

Derby Dinner Playhouse 525 Marriott Drive Clarksville 812.288.8281 derbydinner.com

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville
812.288.8281
derbydinner.com

The FootNotes are made up of talented

performers doing double duty entertaining and

simultaneously serving. Our server did such a

great job at both. In between songs, the FootNotes

introduce new dessert items on the menu and the

cocktail of the day. The preshow ends with plenty

of time for a run to the buffet one last time before

the main event.

The first act began, and the audience was

immediately thrown on the docks of Greek Isle,

or a prairie, or a battlefield, depending on the

production. You feel as if you’re in the middle of

the action. Oh, and there’s my server again! He

was just here a few minutes ago getting my drink

order. He was everywhere – a super talented singerdancer

and still right there if we needed anything.

Intermission came and so did pecan pie ala

mode and hummingbird cake. I am a fan of dessert

in general, and this dessert did not disappoint.

Fresh and delicious, my sweet tooth was satiated

just in time for Act 2.

I have driven cross country and through the

state of Oklahoma. Thanks to Derby Dinner

Playhouse, the musical (“Oklahoma”) is so much

more entertaining than the state.

Thanks to this local – albeit nationally-heralded

theater – I have watched it snow inside for the

stage version of my favorite holiday classic “White

Christmas,” relived my young adulthood singalongs

to Abba and been transported to a Greek Isle with

“Mamma Mia!” and went back to my childhood

with the “Sound of Music.”

Derby Dinner Playhouse continues to bring the

best performances to our community and beyond.

The acting, singing, dinner and dessert all combine

for a perfect evening.3


Derby Dinner Playhouse continues to bring the best

performances to our community – and beyond.


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oklahoma-photo-2018

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “OKLAHOMA!”

oklahoma-photo-2018Derby Dinner Playhouse will present Rodgers & Hammerstein’s timeless musical OKLAHOMA!, opening April 11 and running through May 27, 2018.  For ticket information please call 812-288-8281 or visit

 

OKLAHOMA! is set in the Western Indian Territory in 1907 and tells the romantic tale of farm girl Laurey and her courtship by two rival suitors, cowboy Curly and the sinister and frightening farmhand Jud Fry.  This Broadway musical favorite brings the west alive with jubilant dance numbers, enchanting songs, and features some of the most memorable music ever written.  Musical highlights include “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin”, “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top”, “People Will Say We’re In Love”, “Kansas City”, and more!

 

OKLAHOMA! is based on the play “Green Grow the Lilacs” by Lynn Riggs. It was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration and remains their most innovative, having set the standards and established the rules of musical theatre still being followed today.  OKLAHOMA! debuted on Broadway in 1943 and the popular film version debuted in 1955, starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae.

 

OKLAHOMA! is under the direction of Lee Buckholz with choreography by Heather Paige Folsom and Musical Direction by Scott Bradley.  The cast will include DDP newcomers Kaitlyn Sage as Laurey and Ryan Skerchak as Curly.  Other cast members are Matthew Brennan, Cami Glauser Bibelhauser, Mandi Elkins Hutchins, Bobby Conte, and more!

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Mamma Mia, Here I Go Again

Mamma Mia, Here I Go Again
By JD Dotson

It is, simply put, impossible to resist Derby Dinner Playhouse’s production of Mamma Mia, the 1999 hit musical set to the songs of ABBA. Everything about this production, including dinner, was perfection.

My husband and I started out with dinner – buffet style – and the salad bar. I felt it was my duty to try everything for the sake of being really thorough. My spinach salad was fresh and delicious, the salad bar was loaded with toppings as well as broccoli and tomato/cucumber salads. I have a strict rule to not fill up on salad when a buffet is involved but made an exception for the sake of journalism. The buffet was equally delightful on my second trip to it as it was on my first. Fried chicken, pasta, carved turkey, broccoli and rice and a baked potato, I worried that eating a huge meal like this would lull me to sleep. Mamma Mia is a musical that promises falling asleep is impossible. Also, we had dessert or pecan pie and hummingbird cake in our future during intermission.

It is fascinating how the songs of the Swedish pop band from the seventies combine together to tell a cohesive story. Mamma Mia tells the tale of the upcoming wedding of Sophie and Sky (Kayla Eilers and Nate Willey) on a tropical Greek Isle. Sophie’s mother, Donna (Jillian Prefach) runs the Taverna Resort, building the resort from the ground up while being a single mother. After finding Donna’s diary, Sophie invites three potential fathers, men from Donna’s past, to her wedding, unbeknownst to Donna.

In addition to American architect Sam (Stuart May), British banker Harry (Bobby Conte) and Australian adventurer Bill (Matthew Brennan), the wedding guests include Sky’s buddies/resort employees, Sophie’s girlfriends, and Donna’s best friends and former backup singers, the Dynamos: wealthy divorcee Tanya (Mandi Elkins Hutchins) and single, carefree Rosie (Elizabeth Loos). The men, all former lovers of Donna, were all under the impression they were the actual father of Sophie. Single Phil, former wildman turned banker Harry, and Donna’s true love Sam wove their stories and their loves through the songs of ABBA.

Being a longtime fan of ABBA, it was hard not to want to sing along and dance, but I wouldn’t want to take anything away from these amazing performances. Each actor did a great service to my memories of the band with wonderful voices. Sophie and Sky were perfectly cast, young, attractive kids in love and spent the pre-wedding nights in bachelor/bachelorette island partying amidst Sophie fretting about which invited guest was her father. The friends and islanders were such good energy, flipping and dancing all over the stage, popping in and out of windows set around the theatre and generally acting like young people celebrating upcoming nuptials, it was hard not to smile and sing along. Part of the magic of Derby Dinner Playhouse and theater in the round is the action is happening all around us, stage entrances and exits and every seat is a good seat in this theater. Derby Dinner does a phenomenal job of remembering where their audience is and playing to everyone. All of these performances were spot on, wonderfully acted, the choreography and stage direction were wonderful.

The main gist of the story is about the young kids getting married and finding out which man is giving the bride away. However, the scene stealing trio, the original Girl Power Group of Donna and the Dynamos, chewed up every scene they were in together. Donna, Tanya and Rosie had such great chemistry and comedic timing together, you really were transported to that Greek Isle and easily believed these women were the best of friends and realize the story is about much more.

I’ll refrain from sharing any spoilers, but I will say after everyone has taken their final bows and disappeared off the stage, the audience is given an enjoyable, unexpected surprise.

Whether you’ve never seen it or have watched the show in various forms a zillion times, you haven’t seen it like Derby Dinner does it.

Mama Mia runs through April 8. For show times and ticket information visit: https://derbydinner.com/show/mamma-mia/

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville
812.288.8281

Pictured from left to right: Mandi Elkins Hutchins as Tanya, Jillian Prefach as Donna, and Elizabeth Loos as Rosie.

Press Release | Derby Dinner Playhouse will present the smash hit Broadway musical MAMMA MIA!

mama-mia-logoPRESS RELEASE
Clarksville, Indiana                                           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“MAMMA MIA!”

Derby Dinner Playhouse will present the smash hit Broadway musical MAMMA MIA!, opening February 21 and running through April 8, 2018. For ticket information please call 812-288-8281 or visit derbydinner.com.

On a small Greek island, Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding — a dream that includes her father giving her away. The problem? Sophie doesn’t know who he is! Sneaking a peek in her mother’s old diaries, she discovers three possible fathers. She secretly invites all three to the wedding, convinced that she’ll know her father when she sees him. But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought! Told through the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs, MAMMA MIA! is a worldwide sensation that has audiences everywhere dancing.

MAMMA MIA!, with a book by Catherine Johnson and music and lyrics from Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, is a musical based around the music from the band, ABBA, of which Andersson and Ulvaeus were both members. Active between 1972 and 1982, the Swedish pop/dance group is one of the most popular international groups of all time. Memorable songs included in MAMMA MIA! are “Dancing Queen”, “Money, Money, Money”, “Take a Chance on Me”, “The Winner Takes It All”, and many more.

MAMMA MIA! is under the direction of Lee Buckholz with choreography by Heather Paige Folsom and Musical Direction by Scott Bradley. The cast will include Jillian Prefach, Kayla Eilers, Mandi Elkins Hutchins, Elizabeth Loos, Matthew Brennan, Bobby Conte, and more.

This enchanting tale of love, laughter, and friendship features explosive dance numbers and a trip down the aisle you won’t soon forget!