It is still possible to dine while watching theater in Connecticut, and not just in the handful of cinema and draft houses scattered about the state. While there are very, very few places that still offer the traditional dinner theater experience, there are still a number of places that allow and even encourage patrons to bring their own meal and drinks and provide a cabaret setting in which they can enjoy those libations. Some restrict dining to the hour before the show goes on and intermission, while others have a drinks or dessert bar, or even full-service restaurant on the premises, thus allowing theater goers a chance to have drinks, snacks or a meal without leaving the building.
The CT Cabaret Theatre
31 Webster Square Road
Berlin CT, 06037
The CT Caberet Theatre is a “bring your own” dinner theater; one where patrons are encouraged to pack a picnic meal to enjoy while watching the show. There is a dessert bar, so those who forget to bring their own may still partake of some tasty treats as they take in the entertainment on stage. The play is the thing at CT Caberet Theatre, and while “The God of Carnage” winds up its run in early October, it is immediately followed by “The Beverly Hillbillies” (which is billed as a “boot-stomping extravaganza”) and after that comes another musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” After Christmas the theater offers “Fortune’s Fools,” which will bring the CT Cabaret Theatre into the home stretch of its 17th season.
165 Wooster St.
New Haven, CT 06511
Long before Lady and the Tramp made sharing spaghetti look romantic, diners everywhere knew that Italian food was for lovers – and for lovers of mystery, that goes double, especially at Consiglio’s in New Haven. The same family has run the restaurant for over three-quarters of a century, and even before they began hosting Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, the food was, as the saying goes, “to die for.” The menu is classic Italian family cooking, from “Aunt Marie’s” secret meatball recipe to “Nona’s Linguine.” The pasta is hand-rolled and home made, and the eggplant, chicken and veal parmigiana, not to mention the lobster ravioli with shrimp, are magnificent. Consiglio’s does catering and offers cooking classes – but about every other Friday also opens up the restaurant to a troupe of players who put on original comedic murder mysteries, into most of which they manage to work what has become the dinner theater’s signature line: “Now you dunnit!”
The Ridgefield Theater Barn
37 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield CT, 06877
Theater “in a cabaret setting” is how The Ridgefield Theater Barn describes itself. The theater is indeed a big barn, but a comfortable one, especially in the summer and fall (it is air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter, spring and fall). While there is a reception hall in the entrance, patrons are invited to “bring their own” refreshments, which they can enjoy at their table either before the show or during intermission (but not while the actors are performing). The Barn’s early October offering is the “Role in the Hay” players with their original “Whose Barn is it Anyway?” improv comedy which will be followed in November by the latest in its “Big Read” program: “The Last Flapper.” The Ridgefield Theater Barn also offers “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” on its main stage from November 14 through December 6, with “Oblivion” to follow in March and the classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” in June.
Downtown Cabaret Theatre
263 Golden Hill St.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Bridgeport’s famous Downtown Cabaret Theatre returns in October after being closed all summer long for extensive renovations. First up is a one-time-only performance of “Roy Orbison and Friends,” after which the theater will kick off a full season with the musicals “Hair” and “Forever Motown.” A number of shows with tribute bands (like 2U playing U2’s hits and Zoso-the Led Zeppelin Tribute Band) are also booked for the fall. Like most dinner theaters in Connecticut, this one is also a bring-your-own place (and that includes BYOB wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages) with cabaret-style seating.
The Palace Theater
100 E. Main St.
Waterbury, CT 06702
While the famous Palace Theater in Waterbury offers “dinner and a show packages” on the premises, the dinner part is conducted before and not during the theater performance. The Palace has an elegant, catered dinning hall called the Poli Club, with a prix-fixe menu and full service bar. Reservations are required, but despite being a “club,” it is open to both members and non-members. The restaurant is on the mezzanine level, quite literally only a few steps from the seats. The menu changes daily and is available online. The Palace was fully and beautifully renovated in 2004. Its current season includes performances by Harry Anderson, Martina McBride, Bob Baldwin and Caesar Milan and the musical “Newsies.”
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